By Riley Manning
TUPELO – After five weeks of classes, the 12 young ladies of the So Sophisticated etiquette class showed off their new skills in an honorary banquet Friday night.
The girls, ranging from sixth to 11th grades, learned how to do everything from set the dinner table to introduce themselves to someone for the first time. The guests of honor at the banquet – their parents – could already tell the difference.
“I think this will help her in college,” said Toni Bradley, mother of etiquette student Xayna Bradley. “Because she will know how to be, know how to keep her head and not get caught up in negative things.”
Christian Westbrook, director of the bi-weekly course, said many of her students made great strides in voice and diction.
“I can see it in how they talk to each other,” she said. “When someone asks, ‘How are you,’ they return the question instead of just saying, ‘I’m good.’”
Westbrook and assistant director Meeke Addison also brought in select members of the community to model professionalism for the girls.
“We brought in a business owner and a fitness expert,” Addison said. “We picked people with happy marriages and healthy families because we also want to model life skills.”
Addison hopes their teachers notice something different about them when school starts later this month.
Tupelo High School junior Xayna Bradley, winner of Addison’s Miss Considerate award, said she could already tell a change.
“I’m so much more confident. Before this I was really nervous about talking to people,” she said.
Kwadasha Renshaw, who will enter the eighth grade this year, said she also found a new sense of pride.
“I like the fitness teacher who came and talked to us about how bad fast food is,” she said. “I’m definitely going to start exercising. I learned just as much from the other girls as the instructors.”
The class was made possible by Urban Family Communications, a newly-minted branch of the American Family Association dedicated to giving a voice to the urban community. Westbrook said the course will be offered next year, just in time for school to start.