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MAKING THE CUT: Roger Presley, left, and Billy Gaines use their hair cutting skills to make sure JP Powell students look and feel good for their upcoming first day of school.

LaFayette barbers prepare students for school

LaFAYETTE — The sounds of friendly voices, encouraging words and whirring clippers filled the halls of JP Powell Middle School Monday morning as students waited their turn in one of several chairs.

It was the fifth annual LaFayette Barbers “Bookbags and Free Haircuts” event.

“Leaders in the community, they come together to do activities such as hair braiding and providing free haircuts, book bags and school supplies to help build self-esteem, self-confidence and build relationships,” said Principal Daron Brooks.

Barbers from LaFayette Barbershop, Real Cutz and Queens Reign, to name a few, had a continuous flow of students needing a trim. With past events only catering to boys because of the offered expertise, this year girls
could get their hair done by Tarolyn Dyer.

“It’s always better to give back,” she said. “This helps out the kids and their parents who need it.”

Dyer explained how she utilizes events like these out of necessity, something that everyone present did as well. Realizing this need five years ago, Rev. Gregory Sutton of LaFayette got permission from Principal Brooks to gather other barbers and hold the first event. On Monday, Billy Gaines, Terrence Holloway, Traco Heard, Cortez Vines and Roger Presley had clippers in hand as they gave back to their community.

“Those barbers that are out cutting hair today actually graduated from LaFayette High School and as middle school students walked these very halls, just like I did,” Brooks said.

Based on turn-outs from previous years, Brooks expected nearly 75 boys to have their hair cut and 25 girls to get theirs braided. When they finished up, free backpacks were available for students that needed them.

Also offered at the event was HIV testing and information provided by the Unity Wellness Center. Headquartered in Opelika, the Unity Wellness Center operates not only in Lee County, but four others surrounding, including Chambers.

“This event gave us an opportunity to be out in the community and be able to talk to students as well as parents,” said Outreach Testing Coordinator Mechelle Mitchell.

Mitchell and Prevention Education Counselor Lakeshia Dowdell had a booth set up that offered informational pamphlets, infographics, testing supplies and branded goodies. Testing could be done on site, providing users with results in 20 minutes.

“As the students come in, their parents come with them,” Brooks said. “This is a great opportunity to reach everyone in the community and make them aware about HIV and the way it is transmitted and addressed.”