Skip to main content

Cottonwood Heights Journal

Sixth-graders get a pop quiz on table manners

May 02, 2017 03:51PM ● By Bryan Scott

Olympus Jr. High students, Alice Flitton on flute and Kate Mayfield on violin, provide music for the diners. (Carla Dalton/Granite Food Services)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]
Sixth-graders from Spring Lane Elementary got a pop quiz on table manners at a fine-dining luncheon. They ate a four-course meal to showcase the table manners they had learned during an etiquette lesson taught by Granite Food Services management.  
“This is an experience we’re trying to give them,” Food Services Director Rich Prall said.
From the elegantly printed personal invitations to the linen napkins and upscale atmosphere created by student musicians, the luncheon simulated a fine-dining experience.
“It’s so fancy it makes me feel like a princess,” said Farrah Lloyd, a sixth-grader.
Her teacher, James Reese, said table manners aren’t something teachers get a chance to teach their students. When Prall and Cindy Horton, the district’s food services coordinator, taught Reese’s class for an afternoon, they modeled appropriate table manners and taught proper placement of utensils, napkins and elbows.
The students arrived at the Granite Education Center the following afternoon, dressed in their best and ready to apply what they had learned.
Austin Vuksinick, the only boy at his table of eight, popped up to assist each guest with their chairs as they arrived at the table.
Farrah, following instruction from the previous day’s lesson, waited for everyone at the table to be served before sampling the tomato soup (served with parmesan snowflakes).
Prall said one of the purposes of these fine-dining experiences is for students to learn to interact with others. He said these are skills students will need for future business lunches and job interviews that take place over meals.
“Eating is a social interaction — it’s not just about the food,” Prall said.
That’s why adults — like their teachers, principal, school board members, district employees and food services workers — were invited. They facilitated table conversation, making sure everyone at the table was involved.
Students advised the adults at their table to start with the outer utensils and move inward with each course, as they’d been taught.
Don Adams, district assistant superintendent, looks forward to the luncheons, which are held 10 times a year. He said it is fun to take a break from the office and interact with the kids.
“It’s a good reward mechanism for the kids to get out for a day,” said Adams.
He realizes many kids don’t have the opportunity to eat at fancy restaurants.
“It really gives them a chance to try something new and broaden their horizons,” said Adams.
Something new to students was the intermezzo course — a sorbet to cleanse the palate — that many viewed as an early dessert.
Students were impressed with the quality of the food, which they said was better than school lunch. Josh Kahle and Christian Weber declared each course, from the chicken parmesan to the rolls, “to die for!”
While only fifth- and sixth-graders are invited to take the class and attend the luncheon, students of all ages are involved in the fine-dining program.
Junior high students from Churchill and Olympus Jr. High provided background music for the diners. They took turns playing a variety of instruments including piano, violin, flute and saxophone.
The meal was prepared by high school students who attend Granite Technical Institute (GTI). Chef Jeff Gratton is the instructor for the culinary classes there. He sets the menu for the luncheons and the students prep the meal and help with service.
Gratton is also involved to help teach the etiquette classes. He encourages kids to try new foods and warned them that he’d be checking that they ate their vegetables.
Prall encouraged the sixth-graders to pay attention in the etiquette class because they would be tested on the lesson.
“There is a test,” he told the students after forks had been placed at the top of their dessert plates to signify they were finished. “And you all just passed it!”
Students received certificates for participation in addition to life skills and full stomachs.