Etiquette class for students of any age

July 1, 2008 4:27:34 PM PDT
It's happening in Newark, New Jersey where the mayor (among others) would like his community to be known as a well mannered one. The lessons are open to kids, adults, seniors -- anyone who would like to learn the art of dining.

That means perfect napkin placement to the art of holding your glass. These are the things J. Wesley Tann the Second feels passionately about.

"What we teach is the international language of the silver, which all over the world is recognized as good etiquette," said Tann.

For the past several months, Mr. Tann has been teaching proper dining etiquette to Newark residents. The free classes are offered through the city's Cultural Affairs Office. City officials believe the nearly 10-thousand dollar program is a good investment.

"It makes Newark a better city because it has better citizenry," said spokesperson Cathy Lennix-Hooker.

The thought is if citizens are more refined, they'll be more at ease in social situations and and even perform better during job interviews.

"This is going to help me. Definitely, going to help," said student Maria Villalobos.

Chumani and Osceola Heard won't be going on job interviews anytime soon, but their mom has plans for them.

"I think it's important for business leaders of tomorrow," she said.

This class is held at the Theater Grill at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center -- a real restaurant, real food, and real struggles.

"I really wanted to eat the rice, so I was struggling. Put it on the back of the fork," said Viviana Villalobos.

Mr. Tann's interest in manners dates back to a faux pas he made at 13.

"I ate the bacon with my fingers," he explained.

He has been on a more elegant path ever since and sweetening the dining experience for his Newark neighbors. And yes, even he admits sometimes it is okay to eat with your hands!

The etiquette classes are done for the season, but the city is hoping to offer them again next Spring.

Next month, the city is offering a program for 11th and 12th graders. They'll learn social skills from how to shake hands to how to dress to help get them ready for real life situations.

Fore more information contact, the Division of Recreation/Cultural Affairs at 973-733-6454 or visit ---
STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Lauren Glassberg