The school year was 2012-2013, and Rebecca Pauli was the star cosmetology student at Christiansburg High School.
As a senior, she placed first in the district, first in the state of Virginia and made it all the way to nationals for the “Cosmetology” competition.
Fast forward to today; Pauli is now Rebecca Pauli Fore and is the Cosmetology teacher at Christiansburg High School.
She teaches Christiansburg juniors and seniors, and also a few travel students from Eastern Montgomery High School.
Every year, Fore explained, there are competitions held by SkillsUSA for various different areas of CTE [career and technical education] in the district.
According to their website, “SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce.”
They “provide educational programs, events and competitions that support career and technical education (CTE) in the nation’s classrooms.”
“I use SkillsUSA as a platform for my students to practice having their work be viewed and critiqued by judges as a precursor to being judged during the State Board Practical exam,” Fore added.
Regarding the competitions, for the area of Cosmetology there is a “cosmetology competition”, “fantasy manikin,” “esthetics,” and “nail technician.”
Recently, two of Fore’s EMHS students placed first in their competition areas. Seneca Bower placed first in the district for Esthetics and Gillian Nichols placed first in the district for Fantasy manikin.
Esthetics is a competition in which the contestant performs a basic facial massage, a basic facial, a “day-time” makeup application, and a “fantasy” makeup application.
The basic facial consists of exfoliation, steaming, facial mask, toner, and moisturizer. The daytime makeup must be applied with “safety, sanitation and effectiveness with goal to create a clean, polished look that can be for daytime,” according to the guidelines.
For the fantasy makeup application, a general theme is provided. Each contestant can choose character or inspiration from the theme. This year’s theme was Looney Tunes, said Fore.
In the Fantasy manikin competition, contestants demonstrate their artistic and creative abilities to create a fantasy look. The manikins are evaluated for hair styling and creativity.
The contestants are encouraged to create “back drops” or use ornamentation to correspond with the themes they have chosen. After contestants choose the themes they must create write-ups explaining what their themes are and why they chose them.
For each competition area the competitors are judged on a variety of things, both subjective and objective. There are typically at least two judges per competition room observing during the whole competition.
Each contestant is to complete within a certain time limit. Practicing proper sanitation is also a portion of each contestant’s grade.
Each contestant must provide a résumé and wear a business attire uniform, which is also a part of their over-all scoring, explained Fore.
Because of their placements at district, Bower and Nichols get to compete at state level in Virginia Beach in April; only first place winners move on.
Each of these students has put in hours during and after school to practice for this competition, preparing months in advance.
“I would say each girl put in close to 30-40 hours each, or more,” Fore said.
Gillian Nichols became interested in Cosmetology “because I always enjoyed coloring my hair crazy color, and [designing] crazy hairstyles, and I wanted to learn more about what Cosmetology as a whole offered,” she said. “I learned a whole new appreciation for the art of hair color and styling and working with different people on a day to day basis.”
She has just started an internship at Inside Out Salon in Christiansburg, and her future plans include continuing to work in a salon and attending New River Community College to pursue a business degree.
Seneca Bower’s penchant for Cosmetology started off at pageants when she was a child.
“I always wanted the prettiest hair and my makeup like the older girls!” she said.
Also contributing to her love of the vocation “were all of the cheerleading games in little league where I had the sparkles and bows, or maybe freshman year on varsity cheerleading team when everybody wanted me doing their hair and makeup.”
Bower is currently looking at salons to find one that suits her needs as a stylist.
Nichols and Bower both hope to one day open up their own hair salons.
“I just thought it was so cool that my two students from the smallest school in our district placed first in their competition areas,” Fore said.
Recalling how memorable her own competition days were, Fore desired the same recognition for her students.
“The News Messenger did an article on me. I still have it framed and in my classroom today!” she said.