In this age of social media and celebrity influencers, manners and decorum often seem to lose out as people pursue the latest TikTok fads. Boorish behavior seems to have replaced the refined art of etiquette.
People raised in more genteel times worry that young boys and girls are no longer becoming gentlemen and ladies as they mature. They often stop and fret, “Are the days of politeness and manners lost forever?”
Fortunately, all is not lost.
Thanks to individuals such as Kari Knowlton, the future of courtesy and character remains bright.
Kari is the Director of the Greater Sumner Chapter of the National League of Junior Cotillions (NLJC). The NLJC is a nationwide organization dedicated to teaching young people courtesy and character in order to help them grow into confident and responsible members of their community.
Recently, Hendersonville Lifestyle sat down with Kari to learn more about the NLJC, and the importance of cotillion education.
What is Cotillion?
“Cotillion is about learning to feel confident and comfortable in every social situation, while making others around you feel the same way. Junior cotillion gives middle school age boys and girls training and practice in social skills that build confidence and self-assurance. All instruction takes place in a group setting, providing ample opportunities for practice and reinforcement in a safe, fun and social environment.”
Why did you become involved with Cotillion?
“When my son was in middle school, he participated in Cotillion. After he completed both years, he went on to become a teaching assistant in high school. His teachers often commented on his gentlemanly behavior, noting how his poise and manners stood out from others. After seeing how Cotillion influenced him, I realized that I wanted to become more involved with the program. I have always had a deep appreciation for good manners, and I knew that I wanted to help teach students positive social skills.”
What types of skills do students learn in Cotillion?
“In Cotillion, students learn many social skills, including:
· The importance of using polite terms and phrases such as ‘Please,’ ‘Thank You,’ ‘Yes Ma’am’ and “No Sir.’
· How to go through a receiving line.
· How to RSVP.
· How to set a table, and what utensils to use for each course.
· How to serve and be served.
· How to help with coats, doors, seating, introductions and proper escort decorum.
· Social media etiquette.
· Ballroom dancing skills.”
“Our program is nationally accredited and recognized by many institutions across the country, including the Citadel, which uses it to teach manners and etiquette to its cadets.”
Who teaches the classes?
“I teach all of the classes in Hendersonville. Before I began teaching, I went through an extensive training regimen at in Charlotte, North Carolina, the home of NLJC. Each year, I am helped by my husband Todd, as well as several teaching assistants who have completed at least two years of Cotillion.”
How are the classes structured?
“Junior Cotillion classes consist of Cotillion 1 and Cotillion 2 and cover the middle school years. Each Cotillion year consists of five classes and two balls. We also offer two years of Pre-Cotillion classes covering the first and second grades and the third and fourth grades.”
“All classes are evenly balanced between boys and girls and are limited in size. Due to high demand, we always end up with a waiting list of prospective students.
“Classes are held on Sunday afternoons at Bluegrass Yacht & Country Club.”
What are the costs?
“Junior Cotillion 1 fees are $395 and Cotillion 2 fees are $445 (includes five course instructional meal). Pre-Cotillion fees are $225.”
How do you overcome preconceived notions about Cotillion among students?
“We work hard to make sure that our classes make manners fun. We play games and do lots of group activities. Many times, students come in apprehensive about our program, but then they quickly change their attitudes once they begin the classes. After Cotillion 1, they can’t wait to return for Cotillion 2.”
How do Cotillion skills impact students as they go forth in life?
“It is important that students leave our classes with confidence in social situations. Good behavior is timeless, and manners never go out of style. Our training can help students stand out when interviewing for college scholarships, jobs or even promotions.”
National League of Junior Cotillions
Greater Sumner Chapter
Cotillion supplements parental teaching by encouraging students to act and treat others with honor, dignity and respect. It helps them build better relationships with their family, friends and associates as they go through life.