Photos by Tim Kelly of Truecat Images Photography. Eighteen young ladies from six elementary schools — Lakewood, Campbell Park, Melrose, Maximo, Academy Prep, and Midtown Academy — were treated like royalty for the Silver Spoon Tea Party Weekend.
BY RAVEN JOY SHONEL, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — Eighteen young ladies from six elementary schools — Lakewood, Campbell Park, Melrose, Maximo, Academy Prep, and Midtown Academy — were treated like royalty on the weekend of Dec. 7.
For six years, Terri Lipsey Scott, executive director of the Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, has treated young ladies in the community to a weekend of pampering and fun. For three of those years, the Cosmetology program at Pinellas Technical College St. Petersburg campus (PTC-SP) has also been ground zero for the Silver Spoon Tea Party Weekend, providing hair and nail services.
Cosmetology instructor April Barron is pleased with the opportunity the Silver Spoon Tea Party Weekend gives her students to work with the community and give back.
“We love introducing ourselves to the young ladies and talking to them about hair and nail care, and maybe they may be interested in coming back as a student one day,” said Barron.
Scott had a vision for little girls in south St. Pete, who do not necessarily experience royal treatment, to have a chance to be princesses for a weekend. Parents drop off their young ladies off with nothing but the clothes on their backs to PTC-SP on Saturday morning, and the transformation began.
“When I have the orientation with the parents the week before, I make it clear for them not to bring a thing. Do not bring a purse, do not bring a toothbrush – nothing,” Scott stated.
From undergarments to their princess dress and everything in between, all items for their weekend of fun was made possible by a generous donation from Walmart on 34th Street South and the 18 community angels who sponsored the girls.
The pamper session began early Saturday morning in PTC-SP’s state-of-the-art cosmetology studio. Eight students volunteered their time to help make the weekend a success.
Dayshawna Henry just started the program in August and said she used her time with the young ladies to teach them about caring for their own hair.
“I remember being a kid and getting perms, and nobody ever told me how important the upkeep was,” admitted Henry. “We are damaging our hair all the time, and nobody is educating us about it.”
Whatever Henry said to 11-year-old Kymora from Campbell Park Elementary must have worked because she has her mindset on becoming a cosmetologist.
“I told her if she wants to be a stylist to keep going at it, and to find anybody she can practice on,” Henry advised little Kymora, who has already started working on her cousins’ hair.
Cathryn Miller will finish the Cosmetology program later this month, but before graduating wanted an opportunity to work with the young ladies.
“I was here at school last year when this event happened, but I was unfortunately not able to participate,” she said.
Miller saw all the photos and heard the stories and knew she had to get in on the action before graduating.
“It’s such a great thing for all these girls to have this experience and feel what it’s like to be a princess for a day. I wanted to be a part of that in whatever way I could.”
What once took licensed cosmetologist Frechette Bradley 10 hours to complete in her salon, now the little princesses are coifed and painted within three. Barron, PTC-SP instructor Tenise Crum, Bradley, and Nikki Hanner, on loan from Visions Hair Studio in Tampa, rounded out the beauty dream team.
“We hope they [PTC-SP] allow us to keep coming here because this covers everything,” said Dana Battle, board chair of the Woodson Museum. We really appreciate Mr. Norwood. This is a God-sent that we can bring them here.”
Barron said PTC-SP Director Boe Norwood encourages his staff to do whatever they can to make sure the public knows the college is a stakeholder in the community.
“It’s a win, win for us because we’re not only helping programs and children, but it’s also giving my students experience,” she said.
Volunteering opportunities such as this helps PTC’s students get hands-on experience outside of working on mannequins and also help students relieve the anxiety of touching real people.
“We want people to know that we’re here and competent, and our students are willing, able, and happy to see them,” Barron stated.
The next stops on the Silver Spoon Tea Party Weekend express took the girls to the museum for arts and crafts, to the luxurious downtown Marriot Hotel where they enjoyed pizza and pajama parties and vision boarding. The next morning the pint-sized princesses had a crash etiquette lesson, were whisked off to a photoshoot in a limo, and ended the weekend at the St. Petersburg Country Club for an afternoon of tea.
“The difference that we make in the lives of the little girls leaves such a lasting impression,” said Scott.
With all of the preparation it takes each year, Scott continually tells herself she’s not doing it again.
“But at the end of the event as the children are telling you they had a fabulous time and they don’t want to go home, the difference that we make in the lives of the little girls leaves such a lasting impression,” concluded Scott.