Fun with manners

Students enjoy restaurant style menu while learning proper etiquette

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Left to right, Jamal Jackson, Drew Schupbach, Washougal schools Superintendent Mike Stromme, Ashton Odd, and Ethan Crombie Faulkner enjoy a "fine dining," experience at Gause Elementary School, complete with table linens and a four-course meal. (Contributed photo)

The Gause Elementary library was transformed into a fine dining establishment on Jan. 27 for Cindi Freeman’s second- and third-grade class to practice the etiquette skills they were recently taught by Mark Jasper, Washougal School District Nutrition Services Director.

“Knowing the basics of etiquette is an important life skill,” said Jasper. “We really stressed that you should think about how your actions affect others in all situations. Good manners are often just common sense and courtesy.”

Topics included everything from restaurant table manners to how to make a proper greeting. “The fine dining event is giving students a chance to use what they learned,” Jasper said. “Some students may have never eaten at a fancy restaurant so this will be a fun experience for them to try.”

Freeman’s class was chosen for the etiquette training and fine dining experience as a reward for its work on the Stuff the Bus food drive.

“They were thrilled to be recognized for their efforts in bringing in food for those in need,” Freeman said. “They were also excited to practice good manners.

She continued, “One student told me they had never eaten such nice food in such a nice way.”

Other dining guests included school and district leadership.

“The students were a pleasure to dine with at lunch,” said WSD Superintendent Mike Stromme. “They were working so hard at applying what they learned and demonstrated great care in asking good questions about manners and table etiquette in an effort to do well.”

The menu included a four-course meal prepared by Sodexo corporate chef, Dave Williams.

It featured Italian wedding soup, Caesar salad with parmesan crisp, lasagna, green beans, Italian herb breadsticks and chocolate mousse.

As an added bonus for the students, classroom parents volunteered to be the servers for the meal.

Parent Alexa Ankeny noted that it is important for children to learn etiquette skills and be respectful.

“It is a part of their character development,” she said.

Parent Kelly Morris also served at the luncheon.

“This training will give them confidence,” she said. “They won’t be that person that does not know what to do when dining with others.”

Morris’ son, Kuryn, enjoyed the chance to practice what he learned. “I know to not start eating until everyone is served and to chew with my mouth closed,” he said, adding, “The food was really good.”