Wearing white gloves and Cinderella ball gowns, three local girls were presented to society at the 16th Annual Debutante Ball of the Old Dominion Cotillion on Saturday, July 14 — Lindsay Czarra, Courtney Stokke, and Brooke Valliere.
THE FESTIVITIES began at 7 p.m. in the ballroom of the Westfields Marriott in Chantilly, with a cocktail reception followed by a welcome speech from director, Fran Gallagher.
Decked out in flowered dresses, the pages, girls who are in training to become future debutantes, were presented first along with the future debutantes. Donning black dresses, the post debutantes made their entrance with their own escorts, and finally the debutantes made their grand debut.
“I was definitely nervous especially about tripping on my dress, but I luckily didn’t,” said Lindsey Czarra, 17, the first debutante to be presented.
The Virginia Military Institute (VMI) Cadets, dressed in gray uniforms, held their swords in formation as the girls walked inside and each debutante curtsied twice — before going down the stage, and again at the end of the stage while holding their father’s hand.
Each girl selected her own special song while being presented to society. While her father escorted her, Lindsey chose “What a Wonderful World.” Courtney selected “You Raise me Up,” and Brooke chose “A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody.”
DEBUTANTE Courtney Stokke, 17, the daughter of Kimber Polley and Glenn Stokke, of Little Rocky Run, was in her first year with the Old Dominion Cotillion. “My favorite event this year was the Naval Academy dances. We’ve had etiquette classes which helped us in formal gatherings,” she said.
The Cotillion has taught her about poise and self confidence through its etiquette classes — such as fashion and make up lessons, serving formal tea, and learning how to change the oil in a car. Not only has Courtney had time for the year-round Cotillion events but she has excelled at Centreville High School. “I’m in five honor societies, choir, and I cheered this year,” said the rising senior.
"This is a great experience,” said her mother Kimber Polley. “She had the opportunity to develop and become a young adult in society.
In her spare time Courtney likes to rock climb and hang out with friends. She plans on attending college and major in pre-med.
Brooke Valliere, 17, of Little Rocky Run, has been with the ODC for the past three years.
“I heard about the ODC through other people talking about how great it is and it seemed like something I wanted to join,” said the rising senior at Centreville High.
Brooke encouraged her friend Lindsay Czarra to join as well. The three years that led up to her big debut made Brooke feel nervous on her big day. “I was really relieved after my debut. I was so nervous backstage that I wasn’t talking to anyone. I was doing push ups back there.” Her favorite part was when she was coming up the stairs to be presented and curtseying in front of everyone.
LINDSEY CZARRA, 17, the daughter of Joan and Jonathan Czarra of Compton Heights, marked her official debut at the Old Dominion Cotillion. Lindsey has been with the Cotillion for the past two years and in that amount of time she feels that she has become more self confident.
“The whole focus of the Cotillion is to allow girls to learn proper etiquette from good wardrobe to formal dinners,” said Lindsey, a rising senior at Centreville High. “The Cotillion allows for families to participate in each event.”
As a result of her experience, she feels that she gained an understanding on how to be proper in front of different people.
Lindsey’s mother, Joan, said ODC was a wonderful experience not only for Lindsey but for her as well. “Each seminar that we have been to, taught the both of us. Just being with her at the teas and luncheons for a mother and daughter you grow so much closer,” said Joan. “Being involved with the organization allows my husband, me and Lindsey to be close. Families are important and having more quality time enables families to be together.”
Jonathan Czarra agrees: “I was proud of my daughter and what she has become. She is now entering adulthood.”
When Lindsey was not busy with Cotillion events she was on the basketball team, choir, marching and concert band. She was also a member of SGA and is a member of the senior board. Once in college she plans on majoring in business and law.
A HIGHLIGHT was the five-course meal of lobster bisque soup, a salad of field greens, a lemon sorbet intermezzo, grilled chicken breast with sun dried tomatoes and garlic mashed potatoes along with broccolini. For dessert, guests were treated to a mango mousse in a chocolate tulip cup. Live music was played during dinner by the band, Rendezvous. Soon the debutantes and their escorts were dancing up a storm on the dance floor.
The debutantes with their families along with founder of the Cotillion, Sherry Pressley of Oakton and co-director Pat Kaczmarek, had their photos taken by Herald Brown who has been photographing debutantes for 17 years. Towards the end of the evening everyone gathered round the rotunda of the hotel for a group photo.
At night's end, everyone gathered outside the ballroom to do the traditional grand march to the tune of “The Rodetsky March.” The line and went around the ballroom twice and the evening ended with everyone dancing once last dance.
For more information on the ODC, go to www.olddominionCotillion.com.