While most elementary school cafeterias are filled with the roar of children discussing the weekend or their homework, their is a new buzz at Marlinton Elementary School. After just a month of special lessons with the Marlinton Woman’s Club, the fifth grade students are sharing their new knowledge of table manners.
The lesson culminated Friday with the students sharing a homemade breakfast with their parents.
It all began last summer when fifth grade teacher Becky Spencer was discussing table manners with members of the Woman’s Club. The conversation ended with the ladies planning a lesson for Spencer’s students.
“They came in and did a presentation on table etiquette – how to keep your elbows off the table, eat with the right silverware – everything like that,” Spencer said. “Then they did a day on nutrition – what foods you should put together, shouldn’t put together. How could you cut down on fat and how does fat affect your body. It was an entire health lesson.”
Once the students were well-versed on manners, the Woman’s Club, following the lead of retired home economics teacher Marita Dragan, led the students in a craft project of making their own place mats.
“They have the pattern of where you put your fork and where you put your knife on the place mat,” Spencer said. “That part is for them to take home. They are adorable. We learned to sew and to iron.”
The final day leading up to the special breakfast, the Woman’s Club set up work stations at the Pocahontas County Wellness Center and helped the students make a nutritious breakfast with local and organic foods.
“The kids cooked everything that we’ll be having today, so it’s been a whole month-long process, and it’s wonderful,” Spencer said.
The Woman’s Club was up for the challenge of teaching fifth graders manners and how to sew, and were pleased with the students’ reactions to the lessons.
“They were like little sponges,” Laura Dean Bennett said. “They were excited about it. We got a lot of feedback that they were sitting in the lunchroom at school, practicing good table manners and telling their other classmates, ‘here’s what you’re supposed to do.’ The teachers were very amused by the fact these kids were jazzed about what we were talking about.”
Woman’s Club member Louise Barnisky, who is also a retired school cook and food services manager, said it was very different from how things were done in her kitchen, but that the kids did a great job learning the recipes.
“It’s a big change for me from when I was doing the cooking for the kids, but it’s great,” she said. “We had a fun time. This type of food is good for them and it looks tasty.”
The breakfast included Jud’s egg casserole, pumpkin muffins, sliced apples and organic milk. All the items were made with local organic items.
The eggs were provided by Scott and Lindsey Hayes of Maple Mountain Farm, and most of the other ingredients were purchased from Frankford Farms Food Co-op. Maple Mountain Farm also donated a jar of maple syrup as a gift for Becky Spencer.
Spencer is so pleased with the outcome of the lesson that she hopes to continue offering the table manners and etiquette program, with the help of the Woman’s Club, in the future.
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org