Junior cotillion to revive etiquette training for Beaufort children

emoody@beaufortgazette.comAugust 27, 2012 

Keaton Mykleby, 12, practices escorting Mills Black, 13, Sunday afternoon during a introduction dance session by the National League of Junior Cotillions Beaufort County Chapter at The Arsenal on Craven Street.

SARAH WELLIVER

  • The National League of Junior Cotillion's mission statement is "To act and learn to treat others with honor, dignity and respect for better relationships with family, friends and associates and to learn and practice ballroom dance."

    According to the organization's website, children are taught:

  • Everyday manners, such as introductions.

  • Formal manners, such as how to host a party.

  • Character education, such as honesty.

  • Electronic etiquette, such as cellphone courtesies.

  • "Netiquette," such as responding to emails.

  • Dances, such as as the waltz.

Since manners will never go out of style, someone must teach them, according to Mary Kennerty.

That's why she is bringing the junior cotillion back to the Beaufort area so elementary and middle school children learn how to behave properly.

"Beaufort is very old fashioned, and people really want their children to have these manners and courtesies and they see a need for this," she said.

The National League of Junior Cotillions is a program of etiquette, character education and social dance training, according to its website. Kennerty has been teaching etiquette since 1994, mostly in the Charleston area.

She said more than 100 children signed up for the first course in Beaufort.

The classes, which began Sunday, were instigated by a Lady's Island mother of three who wanted her children and others to receive proper etiquette training.

LizAnn Pendarvis said although she never attended cotillion as a child growing up on Hilton Head Island, her parents were "really big on manners" and taught them at home. Friends from throughout the South told her that a cotillion was the way to go. So she contacted Kennerty and together they recruited a board of directors and first class.

"We need to teach our children etiquette, manners," Pendarvis said. "We need to build their character and we need to teach them how to behave in society in a southern, genteel way."

Her 11-year-old and 9-year-old daughters are in the inaugural class, and Pendarvis said they are excited to dress up and do something new.

Classes are an hour and a half on one Sunday a month at The Arsenal, culminating with a Winter Ball in January. Fourth- and fifth-graders have classes together and sixth- through eighth-graders meet together.

Children are required to dress neatly for classes, including white gloves for girls and ties for boys. They are given booklets on etiquette and then challenged to practice those skills outside of class. Lessons range from dancing to how to behave during a five-course dinner.

"It's an opportunity to have more of a chance to reach people with the message of courtesy for life," Kennerty said.

Related content:

National League of Junior Cotillions

Junior cotillion league forming, June 25, 2011

The tradition of Cotillion continues in the Lowcountry, Nov. 20, 2005

Junior Cotillion shows off the young and refined, May 27, 2004

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