By Michael Daniels
Journal Staff Reporter
Saturday, May 25, at the Stranahan Theater in the Great Hall, Faith Rogers was crowned Miss 2019 Debutante at the 54th Annual Debutante Cotillion. Ms. Rogers, who is a senior at Saint Ursula Academy, was overjoyed, yet in disbelief, and surprised, that she had just won the top honors of the evening. She said, “I feel really thankful and happy, and I’m so grateful for my mom and for everything I’ve experienced in the Cotillion. I didn’t even think I was going to win, and honestly, I had only prayed and hoped for third place ( the second runner up to the crown).”
Instead, she won the top spot, which comes with a generous college scholarship, and Ms. Rogers is headed to Kent State University. There she plans to major in political sciences with a minor in pre-law. Her ambitions are to become a lawyer in family court and eventually a judge in the Juvenile detention area.
About the evening itself, she added, “Tonight was beautiful and all the girls did such a great job and they all looked so pretty and nice, and once again I’m just so happy!”
Other winners for the evening were the second runner up to the crown Whitney Hughes from Jones Leadership Academy of Business, and first runner up Lauren Baker from Springfield High School.
Mr. Escort of the year was John Reynolds with runner up Russell Chapman III (L). Miss. Congeniality Award sponsored by Henry’s Jewelry went to Chloe Smallwood from Perrysburg High School. Talent Award winners were K’Allie Riley: Bowsher High School, Lauren Baker: Springfield High School, and Faith Rogers: Saint Ursula Academy.
Seven Debutantes also received a University of Toledo President Community Scholarship. They were Cinecere Blackburn and Daviana Estis: Toledo Early College, Jasmine Fox and Alexi Moore: Springfield High School, D’Asia Grover: Scott High School, Kiaea Gowdy: Start High School, and Chloe Smallwood from Perrysburg High School.
In addition an array of certificates of appreciation given out to Debutante, Escorts, and the Debs-In-Waiting.
The evening consisted of a two-hour ceremonial program beginning with a welcome address from Cotillion Co-chairman Karen Jarrett and greetings from The Toledo Club President Dr. Frances Collins. This was followed the presentation of Miss 2018 Debutante Courtney Draper and the introductions of the judges.
Next came the presentation of the Debs-In-Waiting, they are Junior High School girls who aspire to be Debutantes in their senior year. All dress the same on beautiful red formal gowns they marched in the hall and presented themselves before the judges. They were followed by the main event, the presentation of 2019 Debutantes.
One by one dress in stunning white formal gowns they were escorted into the hall by their fathers and introduced to the judge’s table. Then the father took their daughter to their Escort for the evening, young men wearing white tuxedos and white shoes. Once they were all assembled in the hall, the Debs-In-Waiting presented each debutante with a string of white pearls and put them on around their necks.
This was followed by the couples dancing the traditional Cotillion Waltz all around the room. Next came the parents Waltz, this is where the fathers danced with their daughters and the Escorts dances with the Debutantes mother. It all was a very formal and elegant affair, the only thing missing was the champagne!
After the dancing was the award ceremony when all the awards were presented culminating with crowning if Miss Debutantes 2019.
The Annual Debutante Cotillion was started in 1965 by The National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club’s, Inc., The Toledo Club. It’s purpose, according to a statement published by the Toledo Club of the NANBPWC, Inc, ” Is to present outstanding young ladies to society clothed with the finer thoughts of living and endowed with a complete sense of responsibility. To accomplish these ends The Toledo Club has added life Skill workshops, Financial Scholarships and Etiquette training whereby the Debutante can step on the threshold of womanhood with success”.
To enter into the Debutante program the ladies must meet a rigorous list of qualification and be recommended to The Toledo Club by their High School Counselor. After which the ladies are invited to an Introductory Tea where they learn all they have to do to become a Debutante and how to win the crown.
It’s a year-long process that includes screening, Etiquette Seminars, workshops, photo sessions, talent rehearsals, a talent show, and of course the final night of the Cotillion. At each event, they are rated on a point system all the way to the end. The lady who accumulates the most points by the end becomes the next Debutante of the year.
Mrs. Wilma Brown the chairman of the Cotillion for forty years said, “What’s special about the Cotillion is that we give the young women and men the opportunity to go to college and the chance to learn about other things that they don’t experience in their everyday lives. I really hope the Cotillion continues because it is a worthwhile event in our community.”