In a manner of speaking

Mansion program teaches children rules of etiquette

Cindy Van Camp explains the finer points of formal dining to her young visitors Monday during Manners at the Mansion. Attendees were there from numerous cities, including some from Kansas. From left, Curtis Nicklas, Camdenton, Brooke Davis, Holts Summit and Sophy Saykally of Kansas City, listen and learn. Children are taught which untensil to use for what portion of dinner is currently served, the importance of saying "thank you" to your host(s), conversation etiquette, etc. After a morning of lessons, the students and their guest were invited to have a formal lunch in the Governor's Mansion.

Cindy Van Camp explains the finer points of formal dining to her young visitors Monday during Manners at the Mansion. Attendees were there from numerous cities, including some from Kansas. From left, Curtis Nicklas, Camdenton, Brooke Davis, Holts Summit and Sophy Saykally of Kansas City, listen and learn. Children are taught which untensil to use for what portion of dinner is currently served, the importance of saying "thank you" to your host(s), conversation etiquette, etc. After a morning of lessons, the students and their guest were invited to have a formal lunch in the Governor's Mansion. Photo by Julie Smith.

Curtis Nicklas walked around a table with a handful of silverware, placing pieces where he thought they should go.

“I’m done, but I still have another knife and another spoon,” he told his teacher, Nikki Schulte.

Nicklas, an 8-year-old from Camdenton, was one of 30 children who attended Manners at the Missouri Governor’s Mansion on Monday. The annual event, themed “Put Your Best Food Forward,” taught children proper verbal communication, mobile manners, table manners, written communication and formal table setting. The same event is also being held June 26 and 27 at the mansion.

“Many people think that etiquette is a lost art,” said Laura Bennett-Smith, executive director of the Missouri Mansion Preservation. “We want to preserve that.”

The verbal communication lesson taught children that it’s not what you say, but how you say it.

“You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” said Liz Fleenor, a teacher at the event.

Fleenor also taught children mobile manners, such as not talking on a cellphone among a group of people.

Children learned proper written communication by writing letters to First Lady Georganne Wheeler Nixon, thanking her for hosting the event at the Governor’s Mansion.

They also learned proper table etiquette and how to set place settings on a table.

All of the teachers were docents — tour guides and educators — who volunteer their time with Missouri Mansion Preservation.

“They put in more than 8,500 volunteer hours annually here at the mansion,” Bennett-Smith said.

The children and their guests, parents or grandparents, attended a luncheon following the lessons. The luncheon provided an opportunity for the children to practice the manners they learned throughout the morning.

Children attending this week’s event represent 37 Missouri cities, as well as several cities in Kansas.

If you would like to reserve your child a spot at the June 26 or June 27 event, call 230-3118.

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