The Debutante Cotillion, a truly old-school event that historically presented young ladies to “polite society,” is still going strong in some circles.
One of those circles is DeKalb County’s Lambda Epsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. The chapter’s 330-plus members are recruiting high school girls now for their 28th Debutante Cotillion.
Information about the Cotillion and the six-month grooming program that precedes it will be distributed during the CrossRoadsNews Aug. 4 Family & Back to School Expo at the Mall at Stonecrest. The noon to 5 p.m. expo takes place on the lower level of the Lithonia mall.
Deloris Birch, 2012-2013 Cotillion General Chairman, said debutantes and their escorts will meet at least once monthly for programs and weekly for dance classes beginning in January.
“To see how they grow during that time and to just listen to them, it is amazing,” Birch said.
The students participate in arts, social etiquette, community service and college prep activities designed to help broaden their perspectives and prepare them for life, she said. They also compete for awards and scholarships.
The Debutante Cotillion is the signature event of the Forever Pink Foundation, a nonprofit community service affiliate of the Lambda Epsilon Omega Chapter.
High school freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors from any school in metro Atlanta are invited to apply to the Debutante Cotillion Community Service Program. Freshmen and sophomores are invited to apply to be hostesses.
The program culminates with the formal “Prevue of Celestial Pearls”28th Debutante Cotillion in March 2013.
Taylor Harris, a 2012 Chamblee High School graduate, is the chapter’s current “Miss Debutante.”
Harris said 75 percent of the $17,000 she raised to win that honor goes back to her as a scholarship to her school of choice, Florida A&M University, where she plans to major in occupational therapy.
Her fellow debutantes, whom she called “awesome,” elected her their president early on in the program.
“It was really great and humbling to see that people saw leadership in me,” she said.
Some of her acquaintances told her the cotillion seemed “kind of fake” to them.
“It is a little glitz and glam, but it’s like a fairy tale, honestly,” Harris said.
Harris said the program helped her grow socially through the new friends she met, the volunteer work, dance rehearsals and showcases where the debutantes were presented.
At an etiquette workshop, “I learned how to eat at a table with influential people, how to take bread from a basket, “she said. “We learned how jewelry pieces can say things you don’t want them to say, and about the right amount of cleavage.”
She said the program had “just about the right amount” of female interaction.
Debutantes pay a registration fee; and must raise a minimum of $750 to be presented at the Cotillion. Applications can be obtained at the Expo or by visiting www.leo-foundation.com.
Since the program’s inception in 1985, more than 400 young ladies have been introduced to Atlanta society and more than $575,000 has been awarded to debutantes and their escorts.