A man who once had to wear his hair as a wig at his high school graduation is being praised by some as a role model for children.
“I just thought he was the kind of person that everybody should be like,” said Michael Johnson, who had to grow a mustache and wear a wig to his graduation in September 2016.
“He was the only kid who would go to school dressed like that, so I just thought that was cool.”
Johnson graduated from Woodland Hills High School in 2014.
The school board decided to use a wig for graduation ceremonies after a student’s mother refused to allow her son to attend a traditional graduation because it was deemed inappropriate.
But the school district later said the hairdresser, a man named James C. Smith, was the one who had a wig and the school board never had to pay for it.
Johnson said he was shocked that the school would allow him to wear a mask for graduation, and that his hair was a costume.
The hairstylist was hired in February 2017 and said he helped to prepare Johnson for the ceremony.
“We did a few of the things that are typical for us to do, like we did the hair, we did makeup, we had the wig,” Smith said.
“And he helped me to understand, when I go to a hair appointment, I should expect that it’s going to be a lot more complicated than I thought.”
The hairstyle changed over the years.
“My dad was always very strict about me,” Johnson said.
Smith said that after graduation, he helped Johnson find a job, and he has been with him ever since.
“This is a big, big deal for me,” Smith told ABC News.
“So I am proud of him.”
Johnson said that he feels like he has made a difference in people’s lives.
“The last thing I wanted to do was take any pride in it, but I was just happy to be able to give back to people and help out,” he said.
He hopes to do similar work for other schools.
“There are a lot of kids out there who are struggling,” he told ABCNews.com.
“They’re trying to find their way.
It’s just great to see someone out there do what I did.”
ABC News’ Stephanie Meeks contributed to this report.