Generation Next

Teenagers learn the Cha-ChaCha-Cha-Cha for Good MannersLeft Together, Right Together – Leon County’s Junior Cotillion

By Jessica Stasiw  

{mosimage}Hope for the lead-footed and socially awkward is coming to Tallahassee this fall in the form of Junior Cotillion. An “invitation only” group of middle-school-age youngsters will take to the dance floor and for eight months learn the importance of good manners, basic etiquette, behavior at cultural events, group interaction and many other aspects of proper social conduct.

The Junior Cotillion is sponsored by the National League of Junior Cotillions, a social grace organization founded in 1978 in Charlotte, S.C.

A total of 150 (50 each from sixth, seventh and eighth grades) carefully chosen boys and girls will attend the first of two balls in September at the Woman’s Club of Tallahassee. In five classes, from September to March, students will begin learning life and dance skills.

Now a student at Florida State University, Hack Coker said he realizes the value of the cotillion classes he attended growing up in Lakeland.

“It’s something I will never be able to experience again, and I wish I paid more attention to the 12 dances we were taught,” he said. “You can’t really impress the ladies with a four-step waltz.”

Knowledge of classic dancing moves and the proper manners for greeting someone are useful training in a traditional Southern town such as Tallahassee, said Molly Kellogg, director of Leon County’s Junior Cotillion.

“Sometimes learning these skills requires help beyond the parents’ own capabilities,” she said. “I think the students will be receptive to the program and will learn a lot from what our staff has to teach them. After all, good manners never go out of style.”

Local parents are responding positively to the new cotillion, said Kellogg, and the program will probably expand into the elementary grades and high schools in the future. For more information, contact Kellogg at 942-1917.

Fun Fashion for a Good Cause

{mosimage}Those ultra-popular stretchy message wristbands can do double duty, transforming into stylish wristwatches when you add a colorful new Klip Clox. The initial issue of watch faces features six “tween”-friendly designs – pink flowers, graphic numbers and a tropical bird, for example – that hook on to the wristband. Plans are in the work to create custom watches to benefit specific charities. The cost for a Klip Clox is $12.95, which includes a charitable donation; it can be ordered online at

Getting Kids in Touch with Nature

{mosimage}Youngsters between 4 and 8 years old will enjoy reading about the adventures of “Annie the River Otter,” the latest in the Pelican Pete book series by Frances and Hugh Keiser. In the rhyming tale, Pete befriends a frightened young otter who has lost her family and been injured in a wildland fire. When the story is over, the book offers a listing of fun facts about otters, wildfires and wildlife rehabilitation to teach, as well as amuse, young children. It’s published by Sagaponack Books and sells for $17. 

Verbal Abuse Can Scar Kids For Life

{mosimage}We’ve all heard the old adage: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Natalie Sachs-Ericsson, a psychology professor at FSU, disagrees. Sachs-Ericsson recently co-authored a study proving that people who were verbally abused as children often grow up to be self-critical adults prone to depression and anxiety. The study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, shows that people who were verbally abused are 1.6 times as likely to have symptoms of depression and anxiety as those who were not verbally abused – and are twice as likely to suffer a mood or anxiety disorder over their lifetime. There is hope, however. According to Sachs-Ericsson, victims of abuse can undergo cognitive-behavioral therapy to help them identify their irrational thought patterns and replace them with more rational thoughts. In addition, the approach teaches them new behaviors to deal with uncomfortable situations. 

Categories: Quick Reads