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Cotillion for Success granted $260k to film instructional modules for use in Nye County schools

Thanks to a generous grant from Nye County, 40 lucky students at J.G. Johnson Elementary School are being given a very exciting opportunity to take part in the filming of a series of educational modules under the Cotillion for Success program, but the benefits to be reaped by local students do not end there.

Once these instructional videos have been filmed, edited and compiled, they will be an asset that can be utilized by the Nye County School District long into the future.

These modules will give all students across the widespread district the chance to learn about a variety of social skills and positive behaviors, including in-depth guidance on how students should comport themselves in both private and public situations. As Cotillion for Success founder Sharen Black said, “Manners and etiquette never go out of style.”

Black started the Cotillion for Success program in 2019 with one goal in mind - targeting students whose families would not be able to provide their children with an opportunity to participate in a cotillion, which can be a very pricey, though very valuable, experience.

Understanding that underserved children are at greatest risk for lacking in social skills that can help them to be successful adults, Black decided it was high time to create a program that wasn’t aimed at earning money but rather, one that was aimed at giving students who would otherwise not have the chance, the opportunity to participate in what can be a life-changing program.

“I am trying to do a modified version for children in underserved communities who would really never have the opportunity to be ‘introduced’ into society or to have anything special. In fact, most of these children don’t get anything special, some of them don’t even have homes… Seeing their little faces when we put them in their formal gowns and tuxedos, it’s pretty rewarding,” Black stated with obvious emotion during the Nye County Commission’s Tuesday, Oct. 19 meeting.

“Our plan is to film a very, very important program for manners and etiquette,” Black explained. “The program that we are filming, we are actually filming a 10-module series. That series is something that is going to last for years and years to come.”

Black said once they are completed, the instructional modules can be used an unlimited number of times for the students in Nye County, and although she is going to be filming with fourth-grade students, she made it clear that the modules will be useful for all age groups, not just fourth-graders.

Of course, whenever venturing into a new project, much of the expense is up-front. That is just the case with the Cotillion for Success, which needs cash to fund the initial filming process. “We are proposing to create an entire Cotillion for Success program with 40 students, who are selected, nominated, by teachers and specialists in administration. The reason we are producing this entire cotillion is so that we will have a long-term program that can be used year after year after year,” Black stated.

She was requesting a total of $260,000 in funding, to be provided out of the COVID-19 relief monies the county has received from the federal government. With students facing such enormous struggles over the past year and a half, this program could go a long way to helping students feel comfortable in social situations and confident about themselves, in turn staving off mental health problems that have become so prevalent among young children since the onset of the pandemic.

“What you are doing, should you decide to vote yes on this program, is giving students in Nye County a leg up in society, a leg up in jobs, a leg up in common civility, which is so lacking today,” Black said, noting that many teachers have shared stories of the alarming disrespect displayed by some students who are not receiving good examples in their own homes.

In addition to the filming of the instructional modules, the students at J.G. Johnson who have been chosen to take part in the filming process will be treated to a formal dinner and ball at the culmination of the program, with Black noting that ballroom dancing helps teach youngsters how to properly interact with the opposite sex, including how to appropriately touch each other, how to respect one another and, most importantly, how to respect themselves.

J.G. Johnson Principal Debbie Carle was on hand that afternoon to speak to the program as well. She said this would be a phenomenal opportunity for the school. “A program like this would really make a change, because we could triage all day long but a program like this would really make a big impact for our students, for our community, for our parents, for all of Nye County School District,” Carle stated. “I am just here to support that and advocate for something like this, to help make a difference for our schools, our community, our district.”

Nye County Commissioner Bruce Jabbour, for one, was quite enthusiastic about the program, remarking that as someone with experience with cotillions, he knows just how profoundly impactful they can be.

“Every child deserves to have a wonderful and memorable, exciting childhood and we realize that is just not the case for many and many people in Nye County, or even in Nevada, they are not even aware of what a cotillion is. So I appreciate you bringing this forward, it’s a beautiful concept, especially for the children…” Jabbour said.

“My sentiments exactly,” commissioner Frank Carbone added.

Commissioner Donna Cox made the motion to approve the funding request, with $100,000 to come from the Nye County COVID Relief Program and the remaining $160,000 to be funded by the county’s American Rescue Plan Act dollars. That motion passed 4-0 with commissioner Leo Blundo abstaining from the vote.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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