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No Boors in Beverly Hills

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Some might find "gracious teen-ager" a contradiction in terms, but not in Beverly Hills, Calif., where the school board has decided to make good manners a classroom matter.

By a unanimous vote, the board has mandated that lessons in the arts of introduction, conversation, and other points of etiquette be included in the junior-high-school curriculum.

Carol Katzman, the district's director of educational services for grades K-8, said the manners curriculum will be integrated into other courses. Although the program is still in the planning stage, she said, the subject might fit into classes in English (the art of conversation), history (changing definitions of etiquette), or health (improving relationships and social interaction).

The etiquette curriculum is being developed by Judi Kaufman, a parent who volunteered her time and that of the communications consulting firm in which she is a partner.

Ms. Kaufman has scheduled a "manners summit," or what she calls "a meeting of courteous minds," for the spring, at which she hopes to get guidance from parents and teachers and cement plans

In particular, Ms. Kaufman says, she wants the students to learn to deal with members of their community who are from other cultures. "We'd like to bridge the cultural gap with grace," she said.

On a more general level, she added, manners help people communicate and build self-esteem, and help students in their relationships and career preparation.

Ms. Kaufman said Oklahoma is the only state to have a manners curriculum.

The idea for the curriculum originated with a former board member, who proposed it as his last official act before retirement. It was his attempt, she said, to see that students did not grow up to be rude.

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