SouthTech Academy cosmetology students recently showcased their talent and skills as they created visually stunning and unique expressions of fantasy hairstyles and exotic makeup designs at the school’s annual Hair and Fashion Show in front of a crowd in Boynton Beach.
The SouthTech Academy Hair and Fashion Show also featured lyrical dancing and segments with students in different dress attire. The senior class was highlighted at the event for its success and time spent in the academy as they worked toward industry certifications. The cosmetology students were cheered on by family members and also supported by school faculty, officials, board members, students and the community.
Mary Carstarphen, who serves as a SouthTech Cosmetology Academy department liaison and instructor, has spearheaded the event for the last 16 years. She was joined by instructors Patrice Marsh and Kimberly Lowery as they prepared students for the big stage.
“The crowd is so amazed by what they are seeing,” said Carstarphen, who served as a commentator during the event. “We bring a lot of energy. The show has really grown and the expectations seem to be greater. We try to go a little higher every year and continue to raise the bar. We just continue to rise to the occasion.”
The show’s theme was “So Fancy,” which allowed students to express their creativity. The students were able to provide a different look with the mannequin styles on display, which included foam head pieces. The freshman, sophomore, junior and senior students executed different styles and designs.
“The students are creative and able to bring something different to the fantasy pieces,” Carstarphen said. “We do not limit the students and push different ideas to help them reach their ultimate goal. We are guiding them through the process to just help them get there. Every year, we find a way to do something a little bit different. We are a very diverse school. We want to make it inclusive and we want to celebrate and make everyone feel special.”
The show features cultural themes each year. The students featured Haitian cultural aspects during the show this year and also included Hispanic cultural themes last year with quinceañera dresses. They also attended a field trip to Atlanta last year and were able to incorporate elements from what they learned.
Carstarphen, who said she is firm and consistent with her approach, added it’s a privilege for students to participate in the show. The format and structure with the preparation for the show brings an expectation for students to be responsible, productive, to value their time and continue to learn. She encourages students to remain focused and disciplined as they excel to bring the show to new heights.
“I only want them to succeed,” she said. “I have been doing this for some time. It took time to get us to where we are now. It warms my heart. I operate with love and passion everyday. It’s very rewarding, and what is most important to me is building relationships. After high school, I believe I can be a resource to the students and they can reach out anytime if they need help.”
The cosmetology students learn theory content and also are able to gain practice experience in the classroom, which includes learning techniques for hair, makeup, nails and skin. The students have the opportunity to be tested and receive state certifications to gain employment. They are encouraged to find a niche within the industry, which includes estheticians and nail technicians.
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“Being in the field of cosmetology, it’s about creativity,” she said. “Everything is going to be a fundamental basic guideline that they learn. We try to make sure we are creating as many opportunities for our students to get the hands-on experience that they need.”
Danysha Cetoute, a SouthTech Cosmetology Academy senior, participated in her last hair and fashion show at the school.
“The fantasy piece is where we showcase the different styles that we have created,” she said. “It describes the history behind everything we have chosen and why it’s so significant and important to our life now and in our culture. It’s a lot of work and it’s always worth it in the end. It’s fun and everyone enjoyed it.”
Cetoute, who said her mom was a cosmetologist, noted she has been dedicated to earn an industry certification. She plans to be licensed with an opportunity to work in a salon setting while attending Palm Beach State College.
“I have learned time management and to get more things done at a certain pace,” she said. “[SouthTech] is great because it’s exactly what you would learn at an actual college.”
Carla Lovett, SouthTech Academy executive director, said the show always leaves a lasting impression on the audience.
“I am glad to always be there to support our students,” she said. “It’s not just a hair and fashion show. It’s a performance with dancing, music and costumes. I have never seen anything like it. It’s unbelievable.”