Hopewell High School in Hanover has launched a social skills programme aimed at improving students’ interpersonal relations and reducing anti-social behaviour among them by teaching the youngsters fine dining decorum. Dubbed ‘An Exquisite Affair,’ the fine dining weekly series involves the entire student population, by grade cohorts.
Under the initiative, which commenced on Thursday, November 3, with the grade seven cohort, students are required to attend school dressed in evening wear and are served three-course meals with non-alcoholic wine.
They are given the opportunity to practice proper table manners, conduct polite dinner conversation, and interpret dress codes. Principal, Byron Grant says that the programme’s objective is to “teach the students how to behave in a formal social setting.”
“We want them to believe more in themselves [and] we wanted to teach them the art of fine dining, as they learn to socialise,” he pointed out.
The Principal further indicated that “the events also double as a HEART-NSTA Trust level 2 certification assessment for our senior hospitality (Grades 12 and 13) students, who were the servers.”
Mr. Grant disclosed that the programme is the brainchild of a grade seven teacher, who wanted to introduce her class to fine dining.
“She, along with her grade supervisor, presented me with a proposal for the entire grade seven cohort. But I wanted to expand the concept to include the entire school population,” he pointed out.
Mr. Grant said it has been observed that much of the violent behaviour presented by students is based on their lack of soft social skills and the frustration they experience from not knowing how to properly express themselves, and and how to extend and receive courtesies.
It is hoped that as each cohort progresses through school, there will be significant improvement in their communication, critical thinking, teamwork, adaptability, problem solving, time management and interpersonal skills.
“We are achieving our goals. It is not happening overnight. But, over a period of time, we will truly achieve the objectives we have identified as the core to this programme,” Mr. Grant said.
The programme’s inaugural staging culminates on December 2, with the grades 12 and 13 cohorts. But the school has decided to make ‘An Exquisite Affair’ an annual event, based on the positive feedback from students, staff and parents.
Director for the Ministry of Education and Youth’s Region 4, Dr. Michelle Pinnock, who brought greetings at the latest event in the series held at the school for Grade 10 students on November 24, said she was pleased with the concept and staging of ‘An Exquisite Affair.’
She commended Hopewell High School for being “trendsetters”, while pointing out that “this is what education looks like.”
Dr. Pinnock charged the students to believe in themselves and always aim for excellence.
“Just as your teachers at Hopewell believe in you, I want you to continue to believe in yourselves. So, with a little bit of effort, know that you are extraordinary, as you strive for excellence,” she said.
Rev. Pauline Jackson of the Hope Restored Apostolic Church in Sandy Bay, who was the guest speaker, commended the participants for their classy appearance and cultured behaviour.
She urged them to “create good memories… and use them to cushion the bad ones.”