Winchester fourth graders get opportunity to display etiquette on Valentine’s Day

Published 4:45 pm Friday, February 16, 2024

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Willis H. Justice Elementary School on Mt. Sterling Road always seeks ways to benefit students. 

While Wednesday, Feb. 14th, represented Valentine’s Day, it also presented another opportunity students could take advantage of. 

The 2nd annual Justice Friendship Lunch took place, allowing approximately 100 students to showcase what etiquette they’d learned and other hospitable talents. 

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“For the second year, Valentine’s Day at Justice Elementary means a special friendship lunch for fourth graders,” wrote Justice Elementary School Family Resource Coordinator Eva Miller via text. “Through tailored etiquette classes, students have practiced everything from polite conversation to proper utensil usage.” 

The idea came from Principal Mary Maldonado as she was observing in the cafeteria one day. 

“I thought, based on some of the things that I would see from students, that they could benefit greatly from some etiquette classes,” she said. “I also thought [about] what is age appropriate and what would be the best age group for us to maybe provide that kind of offering.” 

Before long, it was determined that fourth graders, typically ages 9-10, was a proper fit. 

On Wednesday, the students gathered at approximately noon in the gymnasium, with sixteen tables set up. 

There, they had their choice of a burger or corndog for the main course, along with a side of baked beans or potato wedges, the fruit of the day, a rice krispie or cookie for dessert, and milk, chocolate milk, or juice. 

Along with proper conversation, which included wishing individuals a Happy Valentine’s Day, and utilizing the fact that spoons were located to their left along with a fork and knife to their right, matters such as voice level, placement of napkins, and interactions with both peers and servers – most of whom were parent volunteers – were observed. 

As for the date of the event, Maldonado had high hopes for its significance. 

“When you combine it with a special day like Valentine’s Day to celebrate friendship, and the relationships they have built at justice for the past five years, I thought ‘what a great combination of something that I was seeing that they could benefit from [in[ the cafeteria’ and then also something that would kind of seal the bonds that they have formed in last five years before they move on to Baker [Intermediate School].” 

Asked about how she hoped the event could help students in the future, Maldonado took little time to respond. 

“I think we have a duty to help our students with their academic skills, with their social skills, but then also with their life skills,” she said. “I hope that they leave this experience being able to participate in real world experiences.”