Ribbons, combs and hair gel lined the counter of Nikiski North Star’s library on Thursday while a group of volunteers waited for their first clients at the inaugural Stories with Style. An appointment book at the front was filled with the name of 22 students who had signed up to read while getting their hair done.
“The student chooses a story to read and they read to the grown-up,” said Principal Margaret Gilman. “While they read, the grown-up is styling their hair. We have gel, we have poofy cream and beads and bangles.”
Soon enough, both boys and girls were paired with the volunteer hair stylists and each got to work. While one student read all about snakes, her hair was twisted and turned into beautiful braids. Another read all about adventuring while his hair soared higher and higher into a mohawk.
“What it really boils down to is that kids want a time to talk to a grown-up,” Gilman said. “It’s about making that connection.”
Thursday was Stories with Style’s opening day, and the appointment book was jam-packed. Throughout the rest of the year, students will rotate in and out of the salon chair so everyone who wants a chance to participate can.
“We don’t think we’ll run out of kids,” said Paulene Rizzo, a teacher at Nikiski North Star and the organizer of Stories with Style.
Rizzo said she came up with the idea after reading a story of a woman who runs a similar program called ‘Braids and Books.’
“Well, she does one student at a time and braids their hair while they read,” Rizzo said. “And I thought, ‘Well, that’s cool but why not do it bigger? So now, we’re really big and we haven’t even officially started.”
Rizzo also made sure that Stories with Style would be open to anyone and any hair type.
“Even boys who have no hair wanted an appointment,” Rizzo said. “Which is difficult, but come in and we’ll gel it.”
Rizzo said that the Stories with Style appointment book for all foreseeable Thursdays is pretty jam packed.
“We really had no idea it would be this popular already,” Rizzo said.