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Hilmar students mind their Ps and Qs
hilmar jr
Seventh graders McCalister Russell (left) and Jarrod Willis learn how to salsa during the 15 th annual Etiquette Day at Hilmar Junior High. - photo by JONATHAN MCCORKELL / The Journal

There were no elbows on the table or shoveling of food into mouths last Thursday at Hilmar Junior High’s annual Etiquette Day event.

The event allowed seventh grade students who have been learning about manners throughout the year put their new-found etiquette skills to the test.

Students in seventh grade at Hilmar Junior High are introduced to the importance of proper manners and etiquette for formal dances and job interviews. Lessons are held in various classes throughout the school year.

In algebra class they learned how to add in tax and tips plus proper place settings and table manners. In science the students learned how to fold napkins numerous ways and how to tie a tie. In history class they learned etiquette from other countries and in physical education they learned dances such as the waltz and the cha cha.

All the training paid off on Etiquette Day when students dressed to impress, used proper posture and ate, holding company and conversation with class and sophistication.

Hilmar Jr. High eighth graders enrolled in a leadership class waited on their younger classmates.

“When I did this I learned there is a lot more to eating than meets the eye, like no elbows on the table and place settings. And when you cut your food don’t act like you’re sawing through the plate and don’t eat with your mouth open,” said Landon Azevedo, a wise 8th grader at Hilmar Jr. High.

For parents of students, Etiquette Day was breath of fresh air.

“A lot of times we tell them about manners but it goes in one ear and right out the other. It’s good for the kids to hear it from school too,” said Shauna Van Dewark, mother of seventh grader Andrew Johnson.

Van Dewark’s husband, Kevin, a business professor at Humphreys College, explained that he has had numerous students in their 20s who didn’t know how to tie a tie and he takes his classes out to fancy restaurants to teach them proper business etiquette.

Karen Tate, a former school staff member who taught one of the first classes of Etiquette Day students, said youth today aren’t provided with enough opportunities to practice etiquette in our society.

When the meal was over students were treated to a show and dance instruction from the Modesto-based California Ballroom Company, after which they were given the opportunity to put their knowledge to the test with a student dance.

To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.