Zoey Crane finishes atop the state in SkillsUSA cosmetology competition


Zoey Crane finishes atop the state in SkillsUSA cosmetology competition

June 25, 2024

Zoey Crane, who is just finishing up her junior year at Warwick Valley High School, said she didn’t understand why her teacher chose her to compete in the New York State SkillsUSA Junior Cosmetology Competition this spring. But, Zoey ended up winning the contest, beating out 40 other cosmetology students who were juniors from across the state.

Zoey’s ability to learn new concepts the first time, or to persevere until she learns them, is why cosmetology teacher Kathleen Bettello chose her to represent Warwick Valley’s two-year cosmetology program for the junior competition.

“She has this air about her. She is smart,” said Ms. Bettello. “As a student, anything she does she takes seriously, so when you show her a new skill, she usually gets it right away and if she doesn’t get it, she works until she gets it. And that is really the foundation of who she is.”

In all, 14 Warwick Valley High School Career & Technical Education program students competed in April’s three-day SkillsUSA competition in Syracuse. The students competed in technical challenges related to their fields of study, against students from other schools. The juniors and seniors were all part of the high school’s in-house CTE program, studying Cosmetology (two WVHS participants), Criminal Justice (eight WVHS participants) and Video Production (four WVHS participants).

For the cosmetology competition, students had four sections of a test to complete – cutting hair at a 180-degree elevation (hair held straight up), cutting hair at a 90-degree elevation (hair extended to the side), hairstyle and curling.

The students were given a picture to replicate the cut or style. They are graded on areas such as holding their tools correctly, following standard procedures, keeping their body ergonomically correct, maintaining a correct workplace setup, having a sanitary area, maintaining safety procedures, and acting professionally when an examiner interacts with them.

Ask her how she won, and a self-deprecating Zoey will say, “I honestly have no idea. … For me, I’ve always been a quick learner where I get things very easily. I think that was part of it, but Ms. B is very helpful in what she does. She’s a really good teacher for it.” She said they over-prepared to meet any challenges from the competition, but she still did not know what to expect going into the contest.

“Everyone is so very nice,” she said. “It’s just a great class and you feel so welcome there.”

She was honored to be chosen by Ms. Bettello to attend the competition, but at first, she was nervous and wasn’t sure she wanted to go. And, when it was over, she was surprised to have won, of course.

“It was such a great trip; it was phenomenal,” she said. “Everyone there was so supportive and very nice. Even though you were stressed as you were doing it, everybody’s on the same status as you and you realize they are probably just as stressed, and they probably don’t know what they’re doing. But, it made you feel like you were welcomed by them as well.”

Zoey said her interest in cosmetology began when she was 6 or 7, putting butterfly clips in her hair and styling her mother’s hair, and then moving on to watching YouTube videos on how to braid and style hair. Now, she cuts the hair of her friends, cousins and brother.

“When I was young, I don’t ever remember not doing my mom’s hair,” she said.

Zoey sees cosmetology as her career path after high school. Once she tests and obtains her state cosmetology license, which the program will prepare her for, she intends to either work in a salon or open her own shop.

“I definitely want it in some way,” she said.

Ms. Bettello in a red jacket with Zoey Crane who is holding her winning medal

Cosmetology teacher Kathleen Bettello with Zoey Crane


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Comments are closed.