Cosmetology students at the Vanguard Institute of Technology in Annaville used their skills in competition last month in the Sixth Annual Halloween Mannequin Contest.

More than 20 students participated in the contest, which required students to decorate mannequin heads using the styling techniques they have learned in their classes.

Instructor Cris Trevino said each student picked a theme and then worked through the month of October to apply a variety of techniques they have learned to express that theme.

"They have a criteria they have to fulfill. They have to keep a record of everything they are doing with their mannequins up until the time of completion, and they form a portfolio that shows all the progress from beginning to end," Trevino said. "That portfolio plays a major part of the selection."

In addition to their portfolio, students were judged on creativity, versatility and technicality. Judges for the competition were stylists from Cost Cutters and Super Cuts.

Cidalin "Nina" Nava, the school director, said she came up with the idea for the competition six years ago to instill a competitive spirit in the students.

"Competition just gives them more enthusiasm and motivation to do what they want to do and what they are striving for in life," Nava said. "To compete against people, it just makes you a better achiever."

That competition, instructor Ida Simmons said, helps push the students beyond their expectations.

"It brings out a lot of their creativity," Simmons said. "A lot of the students feel like they can't, but then they really get into this work and they find out they're capable, they have what they need."

First place for this year's competition went to Lesandra Ligsay for her "Medusa" theme.

Second place went to Elizabeth Dreiling, for her "Rotten Pumpkin" theme, and third place was awarded to Brenda Avila, for her "Medusa" theme.