When William Floyd High School student Kayla D'Addario arrived at the high school's in-house salon on the morning of her prom, she thought she was just coming in for a makeover. What she didn't expect was to be pulled into an impromptu styling session with some pretty high stakes -- taking assistant principal Deborah Gurney's untamed, curly locks and turning them into prom perfection.
"I left my house at 6 in the morning to get my hair done, and I was running around all day," D'Addario said. "While I was waiting at school to get my makeup done, one of my teachers told me I was going to do [Gurney's] hair. It was so last-minute, but I was up for it."
Of course she was up for the challenge -- as a student of the school's cosmetology program, D'Addario has close to two years of professional hairstylist training. With her tools in hand, D'Addario transformed Gurney's curls into tight ringlets, which fell without a hint of poof or frizz.
"I love it, it's exactly what I wanted," Gurney said Friday at the prom, held at The East Wind catering hall in Wading River. "It's so different than what I had the year before."
William Floyd's cosmetology program began three years ago as part of the district's Career and Technical Education academy, which offers participants up to three periods of professional career training on top of their traditional academic schedules. Cosmetology students learn hairstyling, makeup and spa treatment techniques while also working on a professional level at the school's in-house salon, which offers open hours and services to students and members of the surrounding community.
"We wanted to offer these types of programs in school for students who were looking for career alternatives after graduation," William Floyd principal Barbara Butler said, adding that the CTE program also offers career tracks in automotive technology, business, carpentry, culinary arts and medical assisting. "When they graduate, they leave prepared to become certified professionals after taking the state exam."
D'Addario's love of hairstyling started when she was a little girl -- creating updos on her Barbie dolls at her home in Shirley.
"I was that little kid who would straighten my Barbie dolls' hair," D'Addario said. "It was funny, because sometimes the iron would get too hot and melt my dolls' heads -- I've come a long way since then."
After graduation, D'Addario plans to attend Suffolk County Community College, where the varsity tennis player will continue to compete while studying to be a physical education teacher. But she isn't giving up on her hairstyling skills.
"It's definitely something I could do on the side," D'Addario said.
And she already has her next job lined up -- Gurney asked D'Addario to do her hair again for another event later on this month.
"She told me she wanted to straighten it," Gurney said, running her hand over her curls. "I'm a little hesitant, but I told her I'd let her do it before she graduated."