The next time a Delta Jr. High student goes out to eat at a nice restaurant, onlookers will be impressed with his or her good manners, thanks to the proper etiquette training they're receiving at the school.
Who says chivalry is out of style? The next time a Delta Jr. High student goes out to eat at a nice restaurant, onlookers will be impressed with his or her good manners, thanks to the proper etiquette training they're receiving at the school. Once a month, the sixth, seventh and eighth grade students are taking a Cultural Awareness course that teaches them how to conduct themselves properly while out in public. Delta librarian Pamela Benton came up with the idea of exposing the students to a more formal setting. “We're serving a Thanksgiving feast and everyone who attends has to wear the proper attire,” she said. “The boys must wear dress shirts, slacks and ties. The girls must wear dresses.” Thursday was the first day they participated in the course. It took place in the school's cafeteria, which was decorated with large round tables that were topped with table cloths and center pieces. All the students lined up outside the cafeteria, with boys lined up on one side of the door and girls on the other. Two by two, they walked in as couples. Each boy escorted a girl by the arm to their designated table, then he pulled out her chair for her to sit down. After everyone was seated, they were served lunch. Many of the parents volunteered to be servers. They brought out the courses one at a time, while the students talked quietly with their “inside voices.” Delta principal Cynthia Clarkson walked around the room, visiting each table with tips on proper etiquette. “This is a learning experience,” she said. “We're teaching them proper etiquette and good manners.” Clarkson said some of the etiquette they've learned is that while eating, keep one of hand in their lap, keep their napkin in their lap and use their inside voice when talking. “If they need anything while eating, like a drink refill or a fork, they raise their hand and politely ask the server to come here,” Clarkson said. “We're showing them the proper way to act if they're ever out at a nice restaurant. We're telling them there's more places out there than fast food restaurants.” Seventh-grader Jose Wilson said the etiquette lessons will come in handy when he gets older. “When I walk in a restaurant, I'll know how to act in a good way,” Wilson said. “I don't want to go in a good restaurant and act like a crazy person.” Sixth-grader Chaluka Foster asked seventh-grader Kawiah Devoil to be his girlfriend for the first time before the event began. As they entered the cafeteria arm and arm, she carried a bouquet of flowers. “I decided to bring my girl flowers,” Foster said. “I can't do much for her, but at least I can do this to make her feel special.” Devoil said she was “in shock” as she sat down at the table holding her bouquet. After she gathered her composure, she said the Cultural Awareness course taught her, “how to be a lady.” “When you go out to places, other people don't like it when you're rude or loud,” Devoil said. “We're learning to keep our voices down when we talk to each other.” Clarkson said the course is intended to not only teach the students better manners, but help them to be more successful in life. “We're showing them to how to speak and dress for success,” she said. “We're working with these kids for when they go out into society, they'll be better prepared for the future.”