By Tia Lynn Ivey
Fourth graders at Morgan County Elementary School (MCES) have been learning etiquette customs this year. Angie Fowler, a teacher at MCES, orchestrated an afternoon tea for 81 students and 24 local leaders at the First United Methodist Church of Madison last week. The local community leaders attended to engage the students and give them an opportunity to practice their new etiquette training. Community leaders included Superintendent James Woodard, Madison Mayor Fred Perriman, Board of Education commissioners, and Morgan County Sheriff Robert Markley.
The students learned table manners, appropriate eye contact and hand shakes, as well as how to ask polite questions. The event is part of an effort to instill valuable social skills that will help students be successful and professional in their future careers.
“This is the first time we have done something like this,” said Fowler. “Meg Higginbotham and I coordinated the event and led the etiquette unit with our 81 students. The students learned, researched, and practiced different types of manners and etiquette. Some of which are nonexistent anymore in their spheres of influences but we hoped to engage them in learning new and engaging manners they will take with them forever. They also completed a project to demonstrate what they learned. We also had a rehearsal at school to practice for our big banquet. They learned everything from basic manners like saying ma’am and sir as well as learned how to pull a chair out for a lady as well as stand up when a lady leaves or comes to a table. They learned how to set a table properly, how to meet and greet new people, to have firm hand shakes, how to dress appropriately, and how to eat politely at a table, and pass and serve the food platters to the guests at their table. The tables were set with place cards as well.”
“Everyone has stepped up to help with this,” said Helen McGregor, a parent volunteer at MCES. “Everyone helping has been a role model to these kids, which is important, because some of these children have never done anything like this before.”
“The Fourth grade Etiquette Event was an outstanding culminating event for KASH (Knowledge, Attitude, Skills and Habits),” said Woodard. “I was honored to engage the students as they practiced their professional skills.”
“We hope the children challenged and empowered. We are confident they learned many new and unfamiliar manners and etiquette they can take with them as they grow,” said Fowler. “Many of our students have never experienced a formal setting like this and we wanted to give all our students an opportunity to meet guests and leaders from our community and display all their manners they had learned throughout the unit.
Fowler was grateful for the participation of local community leaders during the event. “The local leaders serve as role models for our students and the students reveled at the opportunity to meet such distinguished guests. Their behavior was absolutely impeccable and they truly showed off their manners and all they had learned,” said Fowler. “This could not have happened without help from the community. Helen McGregor helped with coordinating all the food and table settings.” Fowler also thanked the people and companies who donated items for the event: First United Methodist Church of Madison, Publix in Loganville, Ingles, Fresh Market in Athens, Krispy Kreme in Athens, Chick Fil A of Madison, Morgan Memorial Hospital, Morgan County Master Gardeners, and students’ parents.