Local non-profit puts barbershop in Capitol High School
BATON ROUGE - Capitol High School students created a wish list of what they wanted to see offered at their school and one of their biggest requests was a barbershop.
Thanks to Baton Rouge entrepreneur and barber, Oneal Curtis and his non-profit, Line-4-Line, he was able to bring actual clippers and chairs to the campus.
“The school scheme is when a kid walks in they just automatically want to be a barber,” Curtis said.
In a converted classroom, students actually step into what looks and feels like an actual barbershop.
“We’re showing them how to cut hair, but we’re also mentoring them. We’re getting in their business. We’re trying to see where we can help,” Curtis explained.
At his barbershop on North Acadian Thruway, Curtis and Line-4-Line have been giving away free haircuts to students every first Monday of the month since 2016. The only thing students have to do for the free cut is read.
“We started with the elementary school kids, and my thing is I want to grow with them,” he said.
“Now, I’m trying to touch the high school part,” he continued.
Thanks -in part- to his 2019 angel award from Blue Cross Blue Shield, Line-4-Line has expanded to Capitol High School where the students have made it clear what changes they want to see.
“They said they wanted a garden; we’re working on that, and they said they wanted a barbershop or at least a place where they can explore that as an occupation. So that is one of the things that we wanted to bring,” Principal Courtney Bell said.
While it is an engaging way to learn, students have to work hard not only in the shop but also in their academic classes.
“They know that they can not go and learn from Oneal if they’re not learning in class and all day, so it’s definitely been an incentive to get them to school, which then also allows them to do something they love and also allows them to increase their fluency in reading,” Bell continued.
“Any kid that’s coming in my program. I keep in tune with them. You can’t be out here trying to sell drugs,” Curtis said, referring to students taking the opportunity seriously.
“I’m on them like their daddy, so they're getting love from another person not just in their household,” he finished.
While he plans to expand his program to other schools and including more reading in the barbershop, Curtis also plans to have a positive influence on the students. When the students graduate, they can then work as an apprentice at Curtis’ barbershop where he has been for two decades, not just jump-starting careers, but paying it forward.
“That’s when I get my trophy and awards when the kids grow up because I have a little daughter that’s 13. The kids I help will eventually help my kid,” Curtis said.
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