No. 1191



There is an old saying that goes, “If we are willing to settle for less than the best, that is exactly what we will have.” Of course, this is true in many different areas of life, but it is really a mindset that being the best at whatever we do is our heartfelt desire.
A while back there was an article in our local paper announcing that Cotillion Classes were now open for sixth graders. Now, if you are not familiar with the word “Cotillion” it means, “A formal ball at which young ladies are presented to society. It also means a lively quick dance.” Now to be honest, this is a little out of my league. We certainly did not have Cotillion Classes in Gould, Arkansas, when I was growing up. But I can definitely see the value in today’s times, especially for young people who are not willing to settle for less than the best, and are encouraged and supported by parents who know the long-term benefits for their children to be involved.
What hooked me on writing a column about this subject was the opening paragraph of the article I mentioned a moment ago. It says, “For 26 years, Susan Humphries has been helping to instill honor, dignity and respect in the next generation through her cotillion classes.” Now, I ask you, is this something we need in today’s society? The article written by Hilary Andrews continues, “Growing up, Humphries participated in cotillion but it was completely different back then.” Regardless, she said that when she had her own child, she wanted him, please note him, to learn the same skills – such as manners and dance -- that she did.
After looking around, Susan found little or no opportunities to enroll her son. Shortly after, living in Hot Springs, she stumbled upon an article about the need for a cotillion director. After a two-week training period, she became a licensed director and began her first National League of Junior Cotillion Chapter in Hot Springs in 1993. Quickly after this she started chapters in Arkadelphia, Saline County, Hot Spring County, Faulkner County and Texarkana as well. Twenty-six years later, she is still going strong. As one who also has a passion about something important – literacy -- this is what attracted me to her.
It was not the dance part that attracted me to this program, even though that is important for some in society. The thing that hooked me was what else they teach in addition to being comfortable on the dance floor. Her classes are instructive in etiquette, covering topics such as telephone courtesy, paying and receiving compliments, acknowledging gifts, making polite conversation, table manners, introductions, receiving lines, first impression skills, dress code for all occasions, manners in the home and public places, being a good guest and host, respect, sports etiquette, interview skills and self-confidence skills.
Susan goes on to say, “These types of skills promote dignity, respect, fairness, a caring attitude, accountability and citizenship.” Now, one more time, is this something we need for young people in today’s society?
Now to be sure we can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear but human beings are not swine or hogs, and this kind of character education should never be the sole purview of those in high society. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if some sensitive, caring women who read this column would say, “We need this in our community,” and get cotillion classes started there. Just go to the website: for more information. I can promise you this -- any young person who goes through a cotillion class will have a leg-up!
(Editor’s Note: JIM DAVIDSON is an author, public speaker, syndicated columnist and founder of the Bookcase for Every Child project. Since its inception in 1995, Jim’s column has been self-syndicated to over 375 newspapers in 35 states, making it one of the most successful in the history of American journalism.)