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Grade-four students learn etiquette skills

Published:Friday | March 30, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer


TWO FINAL-year public relations students at the University of the West Indies (UWI) western Jamaica campus recently launched their 'Social Graces - It's Nice to Be Nice' project at the Ocho Rios Primary School in St Ann.

The project is aimed at providing grade-four students at the school with the necessary social skills "needed to function effectively in diverse social contexts", according to the students, Sasha-Gay Lobban and Kerwin Gordon.

The project is part of a course requirement by the Caribbean Insti-tute of Media and Communication.

According to a release from the university students, the skills include "dining etiquette, meeting and greeting and polite conversation, and correspondence that will help to shape their overall development and make them better social beings".

The eight-week programme is being run as a pilot in grade four, impacting 40 students, as the school had earmarked a similar programme for implementation.

"Each year, the guidance department writes a programme to the Ministry (of Education), and we actually had something very similar, so when Sasha came and looked at what we had, she was very excited and so were we," head of the guidance counselling department, Christine Badal-McBean, told The Gleaner.

"We welcome it and hope it will be a success for the children," she added.

Ongoing monitoring

Lobban said Ocho Rios Primary School was chosen after research. Each Monday, the programme coordinators will be at the school for 30 minutes to monitor the programme and will be aided by guidance counsellors and teachers.

Students will engage in interactive guidance sessions that include video and multimedia presentations, dramatisations and demonstrations of skills by experts in the areas being targeted.

Progress will be measured by communication facilities that the coordinators have put in place.

Guest speaker at the launch, Marlene Stephenson-Dalley, vice-president, Western Knights Toastmasters Club, effectively got the ball rolling by introducing the students to six 'niceness keys'.

They were: smile - it makes you better looking and when you smile the world will smile back at you; acknowledge and recognise persons - this is just plain good manners; be courteous - say sir and ma'am; offer to help - even if it's something simple; don't gossip - it brings trouble; and choose friends wisely - try to make friends who are as nice as you are.

Students from grades four and five turned out for the launch, and were enthusiastic and seemed appreciative of what was being done.

Grade-five student, Jada Coke, was the first on stage to answer the guest speaker's question of, 'what does it mean to be nice'?

"Sharing and caring and showing respect for others," Jada said.

Students participating in the programme will receive incentives such as buttons and certificates.