The Junior Cotillion year ends with the annual Grand Ball in the Spring. Photo courtesy of Natalie Cooper.

Middle school can be an especially awkward time in a person’s life and ultimately plays a large part in how an adult does socially. One woman’s desire to help children in her community develop confidence, courtesy and social skills grew into a nationwide organization.

That organization has made its way to the Buford area and is called the National League of Junior Cotillions® (NLJC®). In 1989, NLJC was formed by Anne Colvin Winters in Lincolnton, N.C. and soon, women across America began utilizing Winters’s method of teaching which included training in courtesy, character, social dance, mannerly conduct and more. NLJC believes “manners will never go out of style and the skills (they) help children develop are the skills of a lifetime.”

Students learn dancing as part of their curriculum as a Junior Cotillion. Photo courtesy of Karen Muratore.

Fast forward to 2023 and Karen Muratore, a mother of three and graduate of the University of Tennessee’s Haslam School of Business, began the Lake Lanier Chapter of the National League of Junior Cotillions® (NLJC®).

“I decided to become a National League of Junior Cotillion director to help adolescents overcome social awkwardness after COVID-19,” said Muratore. 

Muratore runs classes with 25 middle school-aged girls and 25 middle school-aged boys. The participants remain in the program for three years and the classes are grouped depending on the years they have been in the program. There are five classes for each group for the year and this year, the classes are being held at Lake Lanier Islands.

Students enjoying themselves at the Spring Ball. Photo courtesy of Windy Locke.

Buford resident Windy Locke enrolled her son who is in the sixth grade at Buford Middle School into Muratore’s classes

Locke said, “Seeing my son embrace the grace and etiquette of cotillion fills me with pride, for it’s not just about learning dance steps, but cultivating respect, confidence, and social poise that will serve him a lifetime.”

Another Buford resident, Natalie Cooper, also enrolled her son into Junior Cotillion. 

“My son, Moseby, just turned 12 and I’m so glad we did Junior Cotillion,” said Cooper. “He has learned better conversational skills and we discovered he is an excellent dancer! His manners have also greatly improved and I attribute all that to Junior Cotillion.”

According to Muratore, “All Junior Cotillion sessions are dress-up affairs. Ladies wear conservative dresses or skirts and gentlemen wear blazers, slacks, and ties.”

Moseby (pictured on the left) and his peers are ready to learn at one of the Junior Cotillion classes. Photo courtesy of Natalie Cooper.

A typical session for the Lake Lanier Chapter of NLJC starts with the students arriving and receiving name tags and gloves. The students then enter the class through a receiving line of parent chaperones. Students then receive a dance partner and learn to dance. Following the dance instruction portion of the class, students move through the refreshment line and take a seat. It is at that time that the etiquette portion of the session begins.

“We learn how to make introductions, proper greetings, written correspondence, sports etiquette, flag etiquette, table manners, manners in the home, posture and proper seating, as well as entering the event in the spirit of the party and being a good guest,” said Muratore.

The students get to show off the skills they learned at their two big events a year, the Holly Ball in December and the Grand Spring Ball in March. The balls are the year’s highlights for the students who arrive decked out in their formal attire. 

Enrollment for the 2024-2025 Cotillion Season is now open. To receive an invitation, please text, call or email Karen Muratore at 678-800-5276 or or visit

Muratore is also seeking parents willing to serve on the parent advisory board.

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