Staff helps girls get glitzed, glammed for dance

Photos by Brittney Lohmiller/The Herald
Southridge Middle School Guidance Counselor Doug Collins, left, paints sixth-grader Jalyn Klein's nails while sixth-graders Mykela Tanner, left, Isabella Taylor and Mallory Tooley watch during lunchtime at the school on Thursday. 


HUNTINGBURG — Sixth-grader Ava Hall and her friends gathered around their table in the Southridge Middle School cafeteria during lunch Thursday showing off the fresh coats of nail polish Guidance Counselor Doug Collins had just painted on their fingernails in preparation for the Christmas formal dance Friday.

“We thought it would be fun to get our nails done by D,” Ava said, using the students’ nickname for Collins.

Collins’ nail painting is one of several activities school staff and the Friends of Rachel Club — which stemmed from Rachel’s Challenge, a kindness initiative — scheduled to help students prepare for the formal dance.

A few teachers plan to come to school around 5 p.m. this evening to help girls do their hair and makeup for the dance, and the FOR Club took over the dress closet that Collins managed in the past to offer used formal dresses to students for the event.

Collins also has ties for the boys.

“We figured it was one way to help with respectfulness and kindness,” seventh-grader Joselyn Hernandez said of the dress closet.

Joselyn was one of the students who helped organize the closet this year.

Collins came to school prepared with an array of 10 nail polish color options for the girls. His wife, Lori, runs Lori’s Day Spa in Dale, so she helped pick out the colors. The most popular color seemed to be shimmering dark blue, with gold coming in a close second.

Southridge Middle School sixth-graders Ellie Bardwell, left, Ava Hall and Jalyn Klein show off their freshly painted nails during lunchtime at the school on Thursday.

Several girls took Collins up on a coat of polish. A long line of girls waiting their turn surrounded Collins throughout the lunch hour.

Seventh-grader Maci Songer decided to have Collins paint her nails because she figured he’d do a good job. If not for Collins, she said, her sister, Southridge sophomore Madison Songer, would have painted Maci’s nails for the dance.

The Christmas dance is Maci’s favorite of the year because it’s more formal than the other ones.

Collins first offered to paint students’ nails about 20 years ago as a way to raise money during the school’s Riley Week, which fundraises for Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. The activity was so popular that he’s kept with it.

This year, when he heard that some teachers planned to help students with their hair and makeup, he decided painting nails was a way he could get involved, too.

“People say I’m artistic,” Collins said when asked how he does such a good job. “Maybe it’s just that.”

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