Partnership grows Palm Beach Junior Assembly and Cotillion

The Junior Assembly of Palm Beach ended last season with a cotillion in The Mar-a-Lago Club’s Gold and White Ballroom. This season’s Red Carpet Ball is slated for April 8 at the club.

By Shannon Donnelly

Daily News Society Editor

Lots of Palm Beachers have memories of dancing at The Colony. None of them are 7 years old.

That will change this year, when the Palm Beach Junior Assembly and Cotillion add the newly renovated hotel as a venue for its dance and etiquette classes for children in kindergarten through ninth grade.

The series of classes in etiquette and dance begin Oct. 8.

“We are so excited for the 2014-15 cotillion season,” said Monnie Gilder, chairwoman of the Junior Assembly. “This year, we added in The Colony hotel as one of our locations. We will have two events at The Colony, two at the Beach Club, and two at The Mar-a-Lago Club.”

Now in its 67th year, the Junior Assembly is experiencing a growth spurt, brought about partly by an influx of young families, but especially from its partnership with the Junior League of the Palm Beaches’ cotillion. The Junior Assembly’s kindergarten-through-fifth-grade demographic was a perfect mesh with the Junior League’s sixth-through-ninth grade group.

“We have enrollment this year from all over the county,” Gilder said. “Everywhere from Vero Beach to Wellington to Jupiter to Delray and even as far south as Fort Lauderdale.

“Our two organizations working together has been a great benefit to both,” Gilder continued. “We are able to offer a continuous experience from kindergarten through the ninth grade, and the children build on and reinforce their skills every year. I have watched my own children, Tommy, age 6, and Gigi, age 8, mature and become more confident each year through their participation in the Junior Assembly.”

“[The Junior League’s] partnership with Junior Assembly allows us to expand our impact.” agreed Ashley Schutz, president of the Junior League of the Palm Beaches. “We are thrilled to welcome families from all over Palm Beach County to our upcoming season of dances.”

Parents and students will see a few tweaks this year. The January Disco Ball will be replaced with a country hoedown, and the closing event in April at The Mar-a-Lago Club will expand from a dance to a dinner dance.

“We will be able to watch the children put everything they learn this season to use at a three-course meal followed by dancing,” Gilder said.

This is, after all, Palm Beach. Reading, writing and arithmetic will only take one so far. It’s the refined dinner conversation and flawless foxtrot that closes the deals.

Returning alumni will see a few familiar faces. Etiquette instructor Wendy Fernsell and dance instructor Sara Boyd are returning, as is the band, the Palm Beach Orchestra.

Dances take place on the second Wednesday of October through April, excluding March.

The lineup

The schedule includes Groovin’ in the Graveyard, Oct. 8 at The Colony; Turkey Trot, Nov. 12 at the Beach Club; Snowflake Ball, Dec. 10 at The Mar-a-Lago Club; the Country Hoedown, Jan.14 at the Beach Club; the Cupid’s Ball, Feb. 11 at The Colony and the Red Carpet Ball April 8 at The Mar-a-Lago Club.

Class times are divided by ages: kindergarten through second grade, 4-5:15 p.m.; third through fifth grade, 5:15-6:30 p.m., and sixth through ninth grade, 6:30- 8 p.m.

The Red Carpet Ball is an all-ages event from 5:30-8 p.m. Parents are welcome.

Registration is $425 per student. For households with more than one child, additional registrations are reduced to $400 per child. To register children in K-5, call Gilder at (917) 913-6125. For grades 6-9, call Elena Peroulakis at 758-1574or Abby Pantalone at 307-5100.

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