Park City Cotillion teaches confidence and etiquette
The Park City Cotillion is not a formal ball given for debutantes. While the two classes do feature formalized dances for a large number of students, it’s so much more, according to Lillie Garrido, Park City chairwoman for Cotillion.
“The curriculum for both classes is to encourage students to feel confident in their public speaking and making eye contact when introduced to others,” Garrido said during a Park Record interview. “We also express table manners and social etiquette.”
The 15th annual Park City Cotillion is now open for registration. The first class will be on Thursday, Oct. 27, and subsequent classes will run monthly at Temple Har Shalom.
“Typically the classes are held on the third Thursday of the month, but we do have some situations where we do adjust the schedules,” Garrido said. “We also skip January, because Temple Har Shalom is a Sundance Film Festival venue, but we resume in February.”
The season ends in March.
“That last class is a celebration for students as well as their parents,” Garrido said. “It concludes with a parent/student dance and is a fun night for everyone.”
The two classes are divided by grades.
One is an introduction, which is for fourth and fifth grade students, and runs from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m., according to Garrido.
“Immediately following we offer a class for students in sixth to eighth grade,” she said. “We primarily teach boys how to be gentlemen. So, when a lady leaves a table, the boys stand and when the lady returns, they stand and pull her chair out for her.”
While some may think Cotillion is old-fashioned, the Park City classes have kept up with the times.
“Since the world has changed technologically, we have started teaching a class focused on social media,” Garrido said. “We discuss at length with the kids that once they post something on the internet, it’s out there forever.
“We want to educate them about what is appropriate to post, especially on SnapChat, because they think it disappears after six seconds,” she said. “The reality is that nothing ever disappears, because someone can take a screenshot and post it in other ways. So, they need to be sure that if they post something, they can live with that for the rest of their lives.”
Of course there are classes that involve dances.
“Our February class for our sixth through eighth graders is a fun class and the reason is because that class focuses on table manners, as well as a dance,” Garrido said. “We are lucky to have Canyons chefs come to Temple Har Shalom and cater a three-course dinner for the students.”
The tables are set with beautiful linens, china, silverware and glasses.
“We let them know if they have two goblets on the table, they should be set up on the right side,” Garrido explained. “One is for water and one is for any other beverage that is being served.
“We also let them know that the bread and butter plate is always to the left,” she said. “Also, we serve a salad, main entree and dessert. So, they will have three forks.”
The dinner is essentially a class where the social skills they learned through the other classes are reiterated, according to Garrido.
The Park City Cotillion is part of the John D. Williams education programs that were established in 1949, with the goal of improving and updating the social skills education for students.
“Katherine Young, vice president of [John D. Williams] Cotillions is our instructor,” Garrido said. “She joins us monthly from the Colorado headquarters to teach the classes. She has been with Cotillion for 19 years and with Park City Cotillion since the program began.”
Parents can register their children for Cotillion by visiting http://www.cotillion.com.
The fee for the classes is $220 for the fourth and fifth graders and $270 for the sixth to eighth graders, and that includes the three-course dinner dance.
“We do offer half-tuition and full-tuition scholarships,” Garrido said. “We have a limited number available, and if people really want their child to get involved but can’t make it work financially, they can email me at email@example.com and we can assess and assist them.”
Park City Cotillion also offers a 30 percent discount for children of Park City School District teachers.
“We try to limit the class size to between 120 to 140 kids,” Garrido said. “Another thing we try to do is even out the classes with the same amount of boys and girls.
“We will make a wait list if we have too many girls or too many boys and then we’ll release those on the wait list as more boys or girls sign up,” she said.
There is a $25 fee to get on the wait list that Garrido checks every day.
In addition to teaching etiquette and manners, Park City Cotillion also does service projects.
“In December, we do a toy drive, that is totally optional,” Garrido said. “The students are invited to bring an upwrapped toy and we distribute the collection amongst different charitable organizations in the Park City area.”
In the past, Park City Cotillion has donated toys to the Children’s Justice Center, Peace House, the Christian Center of Park City and Park City Hospital.
Park City Cotillion also donates books to the People’s Health Clinic, a nonprofit that provides medical services to the area’s underinsured.
“The books are there so the People’s Health Clinic can send them home with patients after their visits,” Garrido said.
Then in March, the Cotillion students donate to the Park City Food Bank.
“During our closing class, we ask students to bring any canned or nonperishable food item,” Garrido said. “Last year, we donated about 1,800 pounds of food at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.”
The Park City Cotillion is run by volunteers, Garrido said.
“I’m a local parent who coordinates as chairperson, but I do have a full board of 15, who also volunteer their time to assist,” she said. “We also invite other parents to volunteer as a chaperone if they would like. During registration, they can click whether or not they want to volunteer.”
The Park City Cotillion will start classes at Temple Har Shalom, 3700 Brookside Ct., on Thursday, Oct. 27. Registration is being accepted now and can be done by visiting http://www.cotillion.com.
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