'opening' ceremony

Through the opening of an LED ring light, Lavona Smith (left) and Dave Jurcic pop the cork on a bottle of champagne to celebrate the opening of their new venture L&D Academy in Geistown Borough on Sunday, May 2, 2021.

Dave Jurcic spent years operating a Clinton Street barbershop before continuing on to Erie and Pittsburgh, where he spent 12 years as an educator for the well-known men’s grooming product maker American Crew.

Now, he’s returning to Greater Johnstown to teach a new generation of barbers his craft.

Jurcic and Lavona Smith, of Erie, are opening L&D Academy Multicultural School of Beauty and Barber Science inside the former cosmetology school space at 2445 Bedford St.

With a red carpet outside their doors, the business partners celebrated L&D Academy’s debut with an open house on Sunday, showing off a sleek, bright renovated space that Jurcic said will begin hosting students in June.

“After learning that the (previous) school closed, I thought this would be a great opportunity to come back here and offer barber training,” he said.

At a time many of the nation’s old-school barbers are retiring from the trade, the demand for their cut-and-shave services is back on the rise again, Jurcic added.

Both Jurcic and Smith are moving to the area.

Their location will offer barber and cosmetology science – a first for the location, he said.

Both are full-time programs that can individually be completed in 10 months, or the same licenses can be acquired through 14-month programs with classes on evenings and Saturdays to allow people to attend school while working their day jobs.

Featuring two salon-style spaces within the school, as many as 25 students per term will be able to learn how to cut and style hair, offer hot towel shaves and provide other services that men seek from barber shops.

Students enrolled in the cosmetology trade will learn how to care for hair, skin and nails – by mastering facials and hair coloring and providing perms and relaxers among other styles.

Logan Boyd, of Johnstown, attended Sunday’s event while already in the home stretch of earning his cosmetology license through Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center.

He said he’s already considering earning a license in barber science to offer men’s styling services, too.

“I’m really impressed,” Boyd said after touring the space.

“Everything looks brand new here.”

Geistown Mayor Kim Mock and Cambria County President Commissioner Thomas Chernisky praised Jurcic and Smith for bringing their talent to the community and new life to an old school.

“It’s going to be really nice to have this place opened up again. and it’s going to provide more education opportunities and more business opportunities to our borough,” Mock said.

The school will give more people a new opportunity to develop a hands-on career, Chernisky said.

“There are a lot of good things happening here in our region,” he said. “I want to thank Dave and Lavona for their trust and confidence in bringing L&D Academy to our community.”

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @TDDavidHurst.

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