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Charm school covers table settings to social media

August 8, 2018

The sisters of Assisi Heights are hosting a two-day program teaching civility and social skills, and they’re inviting girls ages 9-12 to attend.

The program, which combines formal social graces with important life skills, offers girls an opportunity to learn how to respond to situations with grace, courtesy and confidence.

Students will spend the first day in workshops taught by community members on topics such as proper table setting, serving and appropriate table behavior. Other lessons will cover social media etiquette and responding to potential scenarios that could be encountered at school or between friends.

On the second day, the girls will put their new skills into practice by hosting a tea party for a group of sisters. The girls plan the menu, serve their guests and practice the manners they’ve learned in a formal setting.

“We’re not trying to resurrect anything,” said Sister Marlys Jax, who has helped organize and plan the event since it started in 2013. “It’s about having a good time but also learning civility, social skills and etiquette.”

Ten-year-old Olive Johnsrud, of Rochester, was part of the program last year and hopes to return this fall. While she admits she’s hazy on her table-setting skills, she said she enjoyed the lessons and the party afterward, particularly for showing her ways to treat others with “kindness and respectfulness.”

With etiquette and manners no longer formally taught in schools and often hit-or-miss at home, organizers at Assisi Heights saw a need to teach these life skills. Sister Jax said they were prompted to create the program when parents began asking them how to teach manners.

“People were asking if we could (teach) something with civility,” Sister Jax said.

However, in creating the two-part event, organizers chose to expand on central skills, such as courtesy and etiquette, by offering lessons and workshops to help build self-esteem and encourage problem-solving. Participants in the program will learn skills related to the art of entertaining, as well as going through scenarios to help prepare them for awkward social situations.

This will be the fourth year Assisi Heights has hosted this program, which usually has 25 to 30 area girls attending. A similar event is held for boys later in the year.

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