By Blake Alsup
NEMCC College Publications
BOONEVILLE, Miss. — Twins seem to do everything together.
Especially identical twins.
Thus it was only suiting that identical twins Michael and Matthew Franks of Hamilton, Ala., would decide to an important event, together.
Once known as the redheaded twins in the band, Michael and Matthew decided to cut off their red, curly hair for a reason that was near to their hearts.
On Thursday, April 17, both headed to College Street Salon for something that each had waited over two years to do.
Under the supervision of cosmetologist Leah Houston, who also serves as the Tiger Dancer coordinator, the Franks twins watched as their two-year project came to fruition with a donation to Locks of Love.
In just under two hours, Michael and Matthew were able to donate over 21 inches of hair to Locks of Love, due to the length of their hair, both twin was able to donate over 10.5 inches of hair apiece.
Locks of Love is a non-profit charity organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis.
Nonetheless, growing up with an identical twin can have its drawbacks as the other often finishes a sentence and the same was the case on who was to go first to have their hair cut.
According to both twins, it took an “epic paper, rock, scissors match” of over 10 minutes to decide that Michael would be the first in the chair.
“Doing that with a twin is pretty hard,” Matthew Franks said.
Since graduating high school in Hamilton, Alabama, the twins have been growing their hair out for the four semesters that they have been at Northeast.
However, while their follicle growth was spurred by their time at Northeast — in high school, the twins were under a dress code and had to keep their hair cut, the idea for the donation came from their varsity years.
“We had a couple of friends that were diagnosed with cancer back in high school,” said Michael Franks. “That really hit home for us, so we figured it was a good thing to do.”
Michael and Matthew’s donation to the Locks of Love helped the duo join rare company. First, most donations to Locks of Love come from women and the twins also donated red and curly hair to the national organization.
“If anybody is thinking about doing Locks of Love, I would recommend it 110-percent,” said Michael Franks. “It’s totally worth it.”
However, while the donation to Locks of Love was the end of a two-year plan, both said they would miss the amusing moments their long hair brought them such as getting their hair caught in a car door, rolling the window up on it, having it caught in a crash cymbal during band practice or almost getting it caught in a ceiling fan.
“We have had some people pretty upset with us,” Matthew Franks said. “Some were in tears when they found out that we cut it.”
Nonetheless, the twins still say it was worth it to help someone and encourage everyone else to do the same.
One thing that the brothers said they looked forward to the most from the haircut was taking quick showers instead of caring for the hair.
Matthew and Michael Franks’ journey to their donation and Northeast winds its way through the hill country of Mississippi.
From never hearing of Northeast to almost ending up at Northeast’s rival school – Itawamba, the twins have found a home in the City of Hospitality.
The two brothers had originally planned to go to Itawamba Community College in Fulton, just 27 miles from their hometown of Hamilton, Alabama, but the day after graduation they received an email from Itawamba telling them that their scholarships had been cut due to funding.
Hamilton High School band director Nathan Garner helped get their names to the Northeast band directors.
“We had no idea where we were going to go,” said Matthew Franks. “Some how or another, Mr. (Bryan) Mitchell, Mr. (Jason) Beghtol and Mrs. (Jada) Forsythe up here heard about us.”
Northeast director of bands Bryan Mitchell invited the twins to Booneville and both instantly fell in love with the feel of the campus.
From then on, the twins became a mainstay at Northeast. Michael and Matthew became members of the ‘Showband from Tigerland’ with Michael playing the tenors and Matthew playing the snare drum.
Over the past two years, Northeast has become the twins’ home away from home even though it is 70-plus miles from their original hometown.
“It may be an hour and forty minutes away, but it’s totally worth it,” said Matthew Franks.
While Michael and Matthew became known for their curly red hair, many have also said the brothers are probably the two nicest guys that anyone will meet at Northeast.
And, yes, they have fell in love with Northeast so much; the twins plan to return for another year in the City of Hospitality in August.