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Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

Cotillion class teaches social skills to young adults

Cotillion class teaches social skills to young adults

Sara Escobar

Evening Star

Monday, February 13 marked the second meeting of the season for the Compass Cotillion program, where middle school students can learn an array of social skills—from proper table manners to ball room dancing.

Compass is an acronym that stands for Children’s Official Manners Program, Arts and Social Skills and is headed by director Joyce Hodson. Hodson previously taught a manners class in the Killeen area for nearly 10 years, from 1999 to 2009; when personal issues caused her to stop her teachings, she says many parents reached out to her and urged her to bring the program back. “I had to quit for a little while, but there was a huge surge from parents for me to continue,” said Hodson. “I like to say that this isn’t your grandma’s cotillion. We designed this program to get kids involved and to make manners fun. As of right now we have almost 30 middle schoolers enrolled in our program, but I expect it to only grow.” Hodson says in previous years of her hosting a manner’s class, she had up to 200 students in attendance.

Hodson is assisted by partner Carla Smith, who’s sons took Hodson’s former class in Killeen. “I was one of the parents who insisted that we bring this class back,” Smith says. “What students will learn here is so vital, and it will last them a lifetime. It’s more than manners and ballroom dancing, it’s how to carry yourself confidently.”

Hodson and Smith are also aided by high school volunteers, appropriately called Compass Guides. Seven high school students demonstrated proper escorting skills, dancing techniques, and answered questions from the group. For Harker Heights senior Abby Freeman, it’s a learning experience for everyone involved. “We learn from each other. We have to adapt to their needs and questions, which is a good opportunity for me because I want to go into education. It’s just a great way to mentor young adults, and maybe pick up some new skills in the process,” says Freeman.

Those in attendance are learning manners that range from formal greetings, handshakes, and popular dances like the fox trot, swing, and the cha cha. This year’s class began in January and the season will run through April. Classes will be every other Monday, with up to six formal dances for the students to attend. Monday’s event was the last night to register students, but Smith says there will be a fall season as well for families who are interested.

With Hodson’s revival of her cotillion program, it’s clear that passion, hard work and dedication will help young adults stand out where ever they go.

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