By Christopher T. Matthews
On the last Saturday of May, 2016, the Toledo Club of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc., held their 51st Annual Debutante Cotillion crowning Daijah Blackburn, first place winner and Miss Debutante.
As a Rogers High School graduate, Daijah Blackburn, was awarded a $3000 scholarship and plans to attend Spelman College. She stated, “This is a beautiful organization, program and process that enables one to meet so many new young African American people who are striving for overall excellence. This process has been an education on various cultural etiquettes, such as the waltz, something that is foreign to young African Americans. This program is a beautiful process. It motivates us to bring out the best within ourselves, as well as, our peers around us.”
Ms. Blackburn gave a special thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Mabrey of Genesis Beauty Salon and the Toledo Club of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs INC.
For the first time in Cotillion history there were two second place, first runner ups, Safia Dzotsi, and Myranda Duhart, both young ladies received $1,500 dollars as a prize. Safia, Notre Dame graduate plans to attend Emory University and Myranda, who is also a Notre Dame grad, will attend Spelman College.
Ms. Duhart shared her years of experience of starting as a deb- in- waiting, to the
transitioning to a debutante this year.”I really enjoyed the process, a lot of the club members were very helpful, they guided us, nurtured us and taught us what it is to be a debutante,” she said
Ms. Dzotsi felt the experience was invaluable. She encouraged the debs-in- waiting to not overlook the process. “On the surface it may appear to be a bit frivolous but really at the heart of it the process will help cultivate longevity and it will ultimately become a valuable experience,” she stated.
Third place and second runner up, Caitlyn Stuart received $1000 dollars and will attend University of Toledo. As a Toledo Christian School graduate, she recommends this experience to others and plans to support it the rest of her life.
The winner for Miss Congeniality was, Taylor Coleman, who received a watch from Henry’s Jewelry and her escort, Nathaniel Maddox, won the title ‘Mr. Escort’- and he received $300.
Talent third place winner was Sheyanne, Warren. Caitlyn Stuart came in second and Isis Walker was first place. All winners received trophies.
Caitlyn Stuart, Angela Byrd, Israel Douglas, Kiana Brock, Isis Walker, and Brianna Smith-Parker, all received University of Toledo scholarships of $2000 per semester and first year room and board.
With 20 debutantes, 20 male escorts and 22 debs-in-waiting, the 2016 Cotillion Ball was preceded by 11 weeks of a lot of effort and practice to make this year’s cotillion possible. The Cotillion Activities consisted of an introductory Tea, screenings, waltz Rehearsals, etiquette seminars and luncheons, photo Sessions, debutante/mothers Luncheon, talent rehearsal, talent night, a process that ultimately leads debutantes, male escorts and the debs in waiting to the big night which is the Cotillion Ball.
Miss Debutante selection is based on points gathered during the 11 weeks of practice and rehearsal; the culmination of points are given prior to the cotillion ball for attendance, etiquette training, organizational memberships special awards and honors, community service, scholarships received and talent.
During the evening of the cotillion event the debutantes were judged on presentation, personality, poise, posture, appearance, grace and confidence. The purpose is to present outstanding young ladies to society clothed with the finer thoughts of living and endowed with a complete sense of responsibility.
Rhonda B. Sewell, Manager of External Affairs of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library was the presenter and the judges were, Trevor Black, Miss Debutante 1974, John C. Moore, author and Patricia A. McCauley retired educator & songstress.
Miss Debutante, 2015 winner, Djhream Carter was proud of all of the young ladies that took part in the event and was glad to see the growth that is taking place with the young lady debutantes and the debs in waiting.
Chairwoman Wilma, cotillion chairwoman, brown has been in this position for 30 years. She said, “This is a community project for debutantes and family. Each year it gets better and the young participants were excellent. And I look forward to see what the debs-in-waiting will offer next year.”
The 2016 Debutante Cotillion is made possible through the leadership and organization skills of Denise Black-Poon, Toledo Club President, BJ Tucker, First Vice President-Program, Wilma D. Brown, Cotillion Chairwoman, Karen Jarrett, Cotillion Co-Chairwoman, Denise Cardwell, Cotillion Co-Chairwoman and Debs in waiting Chairwoman, Deborah Carlisle, Talent Co-Chairwoman and Beverly Tucker, Talent Co-Chairwoman; also assisted by Dennis Jarrett and Larry Cardwell.