In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to lose sight of the rules of etiquette. Simple actions such as sending a thank you card, making a phone call (in lieu of sending a text), or introducing yourself, making eye contact, and offering a handshake have been replaced with quick often impersonal interactions. Our children are growing up in a time when FaceTime has replaced face-to-face time, and many of the traditions we parents grew up with are no longer the norm. The National Junior League of Cotillions (NLJC) teaches children how to hone their social skills and manners and reclaim the art of etiquette.
The National Junior League of Cotillions’ mission is “to act and learn to treat others with honor, dignity and respect for better relationships with our family, friends and business associates later in life and to learn to practice ballroom dance.” Pre-Cotillion, Junior Cotillion and Cotillion members are encouraged to make new friends, enjoy themselves and be comfortable with their peers. Lessons include manners, both in the home and out; party etiquette; sports etiquette; how to properly set a table and table etiquette; and of course, how to ballroom dance.
Kathleen Geneva, a Haymarket resident and mother of two teens, brought the National League of Junior Cotillions to the town in 2014. It was a fateful coincidence that, while looking for such a program for her own children, she discovered the organization and saw the need for it in our area. Upon further research, she applied for the position of director, was hired, trained, and established the Western Prince William Chapter. The Chapter meets in Dominion Valley and offers Pre-Cotillion classes for 3rd and 4th graders; Junior Cotillion classes for 5th-7th graders; High School classes; High School Etiquette 101 and Instructional Dinner classes; and Corporate Adult Etiquette Classes. All classes meet monthly and last 90 minutes.
Kathleen feels strongly about the positive benefits a structured program on social education offers. The same way we educate our children in school, social education is another facet of life that needs attention. Social skills are important to hone during the middle and high school years, to prepare kids for when they go out on their own. It’s important to know how to start a conversation, give a compliment and speak confidently in an interview.
Any Cotillion student can tell you that Kathleen says the following phrases throughout the year, “Think about your choices, your manners and your behavior. Set yourself apart with your behavior. You have a choice — who do you want to be? Have respect and consideration for others and be honest.” Simple rules to live your best life.
As rapidly as technology is changing, Kathleen actively works to include aspects of it into the curriculum. While there is a trademark curriculum for the 150 chapters of NLJC, Kathleen adds her own special twist. And it’s that special twist that keeps kids in the program year after year. Kathleen makes the classes fun and relevant and always positive. Social media, texting, and cell phone etiquette are now part of the classes. She feels it’s important to teach youth how to use social media in a positive and responsible manner.
In the coming months, Kathleen will be offering her advice on timely topics like these in Lifestyle, so be sure to stay tuned. For more information on the National Junior Leagues of Cotillions’ Western Prince William Chapter, visit NLJC.com/n/index.php/Chapters/WestPrinceWilliam/Chapter, and follow the group on Facebook at @CotillionOfWestPrinceWilliam.