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A pub and a lesson plan

Here's a question for Miss Manners: Is the local pub an appropriate venue for teaching 3rd graders proper etiquette?

The answer is not anymore, according to Maryland's Anne Arundel County schools. The concerns of a parent recently forced school officials there to reconsider what had been a long-running lesson in manners.

For the past 10 years, 3rd graders from Eastport Elementary School in Annapolis have gotten a one-hour etiquette lesson during a field trip to Davis' Pub, a restaurant and bar a few blocks from the school.

During the trips, the pub closed down to all but the 40 or 50 students and offered free potato skins, soup and salad, hot dogs and hamburgers, and ice cream. During the meal, the restaurant's staff instructed the students on how to order, where to place their napkins, and how to tip.

But when Charlotte Lewis discovered that her child was about to learn table manners at a bar, she called the school. Eastport officials referred the question to the district's central office, where officials determined that the field trips violated a systemwide rule against organizing field trips to places that promote the use of alcohol.

This year's trip was promptly canceled, disappointing the staff at Davis' Pub, who each year donate time and food to the outing, which they believe teaches important lessons.

"We're not trying to make these 3rd graders into future customers," said bartender Linda Larson. "We just want to teach them some manners. A lot of these children have never been to a restaurant before."

Ms. Larson, who has two children attending high school in the Anne Arundel system, said the 72,000-student district should clarify its rules to consider other types of outings to places that might serve alcohol.

"My daughter takes French, and every year they go to a French restaurant, which serves wine, and with the study-abroad programs, what about the airplanes that have bars?" she said.

District officials said that Ms. Lewis was the only parent to express concern and that no school employees faced disciplinary action over the past field trips.

"There's no doubt in my mind it was a case of the principal not being cognizant of that particular part of the regulations," said Shirley Hicks, the director of instruction for the schools.

Ms. Lewis could not be reached for comment.


Vol. 16, Issue 08

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