Cotillion Debuts Spring Debutantes

The Northern Shenandoah Valley Cotillion for Young Women of Excellence, a nonprofit organization whose mission is cultivating the inner beauty of young women to believe, achieve and succeed, presented its 2011 debutantes at Winchester’s Best Western Lee-Jackson Conference Center on Sunday, April 10th.  The “coming-out” celebration included four young women from Clarke County.

“The event was a great success” said Cotillion board member Dorothy Davis.

Davis and fellow board members Nancy Finley Barbour, Brenda Jones, Carmen Crawford and Keysha Mathes organized Cotillion as a way mentor to local young women and to honor the mentors that were so important in their early lives.

Northern Shenandoah Valley Cotillion for Young Women board members (front l-r) Mrs. Nancy Finley Barbour, Ms. Dorothy Davis, Ms. Brenda Jones (standing l-r) Mrs. Carmen Crawford, Mrs. Keysha Mathes

“Our goal is to teach community, family and commitment and Christian values that will enable young women to succeed in all areas of life and pass the torch to their children and communities” said Davis.


Cotillion History

According to the Northern Shenandoah Valley Cotillion, cotillions or debutante balls date back to ancient Africa. In Africa, the rites of passage were held annually for both boys and girls. The process started with the elders of the community observing and analyzing each youth individually. The scrutiny included a look at parental guidance and the home environment. Then the initiates were sent to a place where the elders prepared them for adulthood, a process that lasted for three months or up to three years depending on the work and community duties assigned. Afterwards, the initiates were welcomed into the adult community at a celebration highlighted by ritualistic dances.

The celebration also included the Fathers presenting their daughters to the neighboring villages. Since its African roots, the word “cotillion” originated in France in the 1700’s as a style of social dancing. The French Cotillion dance was originally composed of four dancing couples aligned in a square formation. The name “cotillion” is derived from the French word for petticoat. This name came about because of the flash of the petticoats as the partners turned in dance.


Values to Live By

Today, a young woman’s success is measured by her character, up standing qualities, her discrimination, and taste. Northern Shenandoah Valley Cotillion believes that the modern young woman creates her own sense of social worth by her intelligence, refinement and actions. As these young ladies enter adulthood, the Northern Shenandoah Valley Cotillion mentors strive to mold the young ladies with an astute awareness of volunteerism and patriotism and to increase their community involvement and knowledge of civic activities.


Cotillion Etiquette

The Northern Shenandoah Valley Cotillion places as much emphasis on etiquette, manners and character education as it does on dancing. The social and character education components of the program include rules of proper telephone courtesy, acknowledgments of gifts, introductions, participating in group settings, polite conversation, paying and receiving compliments, sports etiquette, dress code for all occasions, manners in the home and in public places, table manners, formal place settings, skills involved in being a guest, hostess or host, and many other areas of social behavior. Other topics covered are the ethics involved in the areas of having honor, dignity, respect, honesty, fairness, a caring attitude, accountability, citizenship, and career goals.


Cotillion Manners

The Northern Shenandoah Valley Cotillion for Young Women encourages young ladies to be comfortable together, make new friends and enjoy themselves. After constant practice in a peer group, young ladies are expected to leave the program with the confidence and poise that comes from knowing the proper etiquette in any social situation. Instruction in dancing and etiquette is given throughout all sessions.

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Northern Shenandoah Valley Cotillion Debutantes for 2011

Having met the requirements for excellence espoused by the Northern Shenandoah Valley Cotillion for Young Women, Clarke County’s debutantes are:


Miss Destiny Yvette Thomas


Miss Destiny Yvette Thomas is a CCHS senior

Destiny is a senior at Clarke County High School where her GPA is 3.4. At CCHS, Destiny is the Vice-President of the Diversity Club, a mentor, a member of DECA, HOSA, and the Girl’s Varsity Track and Field Team (4 x 400 District Champs).

Destiny was awarded the Principal’s GPA Award in 10th grade.

She is a life-long member of St. Luke Baptist Church where she sings in the Youth Choir and has acted as secretary.

Destiny hopes to major in Early Childhood Education because of her love of children. She will be attending Shepherd University.

Her parents are Ms. Dawn Smith and Mr. Mark Thomas.


Miss Andréa Mona Gaither

Miss Andréa Mona Gaither is a CCHS senior

Andréa is a senior at Clarke County High School with a 4.2 /4.0 GPA. Andréa’s many activities at CCHS include SCA (Student Council) vice – president, Captain of the Varsity Competition Cheer Squad, Captain of the Girl’s Varsity Track and Field Team , President of the Prom Committee (11th grade), and Vice President of her Junior Class.

She is a member of the National Honor Society, the CCHS Homecoming Court and is a 2011 Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival Princess. Additionally, Andréa was recognized by The Winchester Star and the Northern Virginia Daily as the Female Track Athlete of the Year.

She is a member of St. Luke Baptist Church where she is the assistant church clerk, a junior usher, a Youth Choir Member, a math tutor and was an ABCOTS Youth Representative in 2010.

Andréa works as an office assistant at Berryville Dermatology.

She wants to become a Social Worker to improve the lives of others. She will be attending Marshall University and plans returning to her community to help improve it.

Her parents are Mr. and Mrs. Kelvin (Labuan) Curry.


Miss Amanda A’ Nike Spain

Amanda is a sophomore at Clarke County High School with a 3.8 GPA. Her future plans are to graduate with a major in Education.

Miss Amanda A’ Nike Spain is a CCHS sophomore

She is a JV Cheerleader (Captain) and was a member of the Freshman Girl’s Basketball team and the Girl’s Varsity Track and Field Team, competing at the States Final Event. She was awarded an Academic Letter in grade 9.

At St. Luke Baptist Church, Amanda is a member of the Youth Choir, the Youth Usher Board and is presently the assistant treasurer of the Brackett-Morrell Association. Amanda has volunteered in the Soup Kitchen and is a Vacation Bible School volunteer.

Her hobbies are singing and playing the guitar.

Her parents are Mr. and Mrs. Kelvin (Labuan) Curry.


Miss Jasmine Christine Bailey

Miss Jasmine Christine Bailey is a CCHS freshman

Jasmine is a freshman at Clarke County High School with a 4.6556 GPA. She is the Ninth Grade SCA President, a JV Cheerleader and a member of the Homecoming Court.

She attends St. Luke Baptist Church where she is a teacher’s assistant in the Vacation Bible School program.

Jasmine plans to graduate as Valedictorian of her class in 2014. She has not decided upon a profession. But definitely plans to make many positive contributions to society.

Jasmine admires First Lady Michelle Obama because she believes Mrs. Obama is an inspiration to all women in the world.

Her parents are Ms Lisa Bailey and Mr. Glenn Polson.


  1. Elizabeth says:

    Congratulations to some lovely ladies!

  2. This is a great idea and it seems like a great event. But it seems like it is only inclusive of African-Americans. I think kids of all colors, male and female could use many of the benefits that this event offers.

    CDN Editor: Northern Shenandoah Valley Cotillion for Young Women of Excellence is open to young women of all ethnic backgrounds. Upcoming classes currently include “debutantes-in-waiting” of African-American descent as well as Caucasian descent.

  3. April O'Leary says:

    I agree with you Elizabeth – very lovely young ladies indeed! They are all outgoing, easy to carry a conversation with and wonderful role models for any young lady. I’m honored to know each of them and I’m sure their parents are very proud!