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Party offers second-graders a chance to share advice on good manners

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ANN MARIE AMES
December 18, 2010
— Life can be awkward sometimes.

Like when you run out of drinks in the middle of the party.


Or when you accidentally burp while trying to introduce yourself to a reporter.


No reason to panic. Just follow the lead of Jackson Elementary School second-graders and their teachers: remember your manners, and no one gets offended.


The second grade hosted the school’s fifth annual Winter Tea Party. It was the first year the beverages ran out before everyone got to choose a snack, said teacher Andrea Dunmore. She apologized gracefully, and the tea party went on until more coffee was available.


The annual event is part of a month-long focus on manners during health and social studies classes, Dunmore said. Students made invitations for parents and other special adults. They graphed the responses as well as the number of snacks needed to feed the crowd, she said.


The hosts were well prepared. The snack table bore a mountain of cookies and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut into dainty, crust-free triangles.


Mrs. Dunmore expects good manners—but not perfection—in the classroom, said the 8-year-old burper who shall remain unnamed.


It really was an accident.


In addition to centerpieces, each table had little slips of paper with suggestions to help students work through awkward silences at the table. The suggestions included:


- Name a place you have had to use good manners.


- What is your favorite cookie and why?


They were excellent suggestions, although few of the second-graders had trouble carrying on conversations. Popular discussion topics included “Can you believe we had a fire drill and I wasn’t even cold even though I didn’t wear my coat or snow pants?” and “I’m getting a new sibling, but I don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl because it isn’t birthed yet.”


Students responded promptly when asked what is the most important manner to remember.


Jordan Koeppen, 7, said people should “Remember to say, ‘Pass the dot dot dot (…).’” If you don’t, you might put your elbow in someone’s food. Or, worse, you might put it in someone’s face. Nathan Nelson, 8, helpfully demonstrated what it looks like when you put your elbow in someone’s face.


No one was injured.


Nathan said you should always remember to say, “May I have something,” instead of demanding whatever you want in a very loud, screechy, annoying voice. Nathan’s demonstration of this voice was as excellent as his elbowing demonstration.


Jaiden Benitez, 7, who was wearing a sharp-looking tie in honor of the party, said you should never interrupt people when they are talking. They might get mixed up, he said.


Several students said it’s very important to remember to not use bad words. None of them mentioned keeping cell phones put away during mealtime, although that might have been a helpful suggestion for one or two adults at the party.


Two young ladies said the most important manner is chewing with your mouth closed.


“It’s disgusting,” said Anah Mary Woodham and Melody Ramirez, both 7.


Anah carefully printed her full name in a Gazette reporter’s notebook and added,


“I don’t think people want to see what’s inside your mouth. Yuck!”



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