By Jurry Taalib-Deen
Journal Staff Writer
For 18 weeks, 27 young women participated in various workshops that would prepare them for womanhood, such as etiquette, college preparedness, fitness, and ballroom dancing.
They would attend an Etiquette and Health Luncheon, a Mother/Daughter Luncheon, and participate in a talent show the week leading into the Debutante Cotillion.
There were a few back stories that occurred during those 18 weeks, as well as at the Fifty-third Annual Debutante Cotillion, held on Saturday May 26, in the Great Hall of the Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd. Sponsored by The Toledo branch of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc., a few of those stories had never occurred in the 53 years of the event.
Those back stories included four sets of twins participating in the event, 13 year old William Palmer Jr., escorted his sister Essence, and won the first ever, Junior Mr. Escort, and all of the debutantes had scholarships totaling seven million dollars.
But the highlight of the night was the crowning of Miss Debutante, Courtney Draper, who earned over $150,000 worth of scholarships.
When each of the contestants’ bios was read aloud, Ms. Draper, a recent graduate of Toledo School for the Arts, bio was extensive, as well as impressive. Besides being on the honor roll, since kindergarten, belonged to several organizations including National Honor Society, and the Toledo Excel Scholarship Program.
Further, two of her 10 volunteer services included Flint Water Drive, and Toledo Children’s Hospital.
Ms. Draper was accepted at Bowling Green State University, Wright State University, Eastern Michigan University, and Wittenberg University. She will be attending Wright State in the fall majoring in human resource management, and dance.
“I can’t believe they called my name,” she told The Toledo Journal. “I was like, oh my God, they called my name,” she said.
In addition to winning Miss. Debutante, Ms. Draper also won first place in the Outstanding Talent competition by performing a contemporary dance. Ultimately, she said, “I want to be a professional dancer.”
To go along with the title of Miss. Debutante, Ms. Draper won $3000. First runner-up, Nakiya White, won $2000, and second runner-up, Christa Parker won $1000.
Outstanding talent winners were, Courtney Draper, Keyara Edwards, who did an original spoken word piece, and Krista Parker, who performed a science experiment.
Ramona Stephenson won Miss Congeniality, and was awarded with a watch from Henry Triplett, owner of Henry’s Jewelry.
Mr. Escort was Justin Moore, who was awarded $300. And the first ever, Junior Mr. Escort was William Palmer Jr, who was awarded $100.
Receiving The President’s Community Scholarship Awards for $2000, were Simone Black, Marissa Dzotsi, Kennedy Harper, Essence Palmer, and Christa Parker.