Some Arizona students are learning that an impressive résumé may not be enough to land a great job. Good table manners may also be a necessity.
At the 616-student Metro Tech High School in Phoenix, 50 students in the culinary-arts program are required to take a course in food etiquette as a part of their curriculum.
The course, which is geared to prepare students for job interviews or important social functions where food will be served, offers students such advice as the impropriety of blowing on hot soup in a spoon to cool it off and salting food before tasting it.
Over the past four years, the class has gained recognition within the Phoenix Union High School District. As a result, the eight other high schools in the district have been making reservations for their students to go to the vocational school for the lessons in etiquette. The program includes a three-course meal in the school's "fine-dining room."
The etiquette program aims to ensure that students will not lose out on jobs they are qualified for because of a social blunder.
"Good manners even out the playing field," said Jim Cummings, a spokesman for the 21,000-student district. "Plus, anytime you can add to a student's knowledge, be it etiquette or history, you bring them up a notch in the world."
The days of serving Tuna Surprise in the cafeteria may be over for students in suburban Washington, who are stepping up to the plate to voice their opinions on adding such foods as peach frozen yogurt and country beef steak to their lunchroom menus.
Districts in Maryland and Virginia are conducting taste-test panels for students to decide what to cook at school and what to keep out of the cafeteria.
School officials say the panels have been quite a success in giving students a say in what the cafeteria will serve for lunch. And the process helps the districts' food services keep tabs on what items to order to create balanced lunches that will get eaten.
"Student input helps us in the decision process and gives the students a chance to understand what we do," said George Bibbins, the director of food and nutrition services for the 128,000-student Prince George's County district in Maryland.
Likewise, Serena Suthers, the director of food services in Virginia's Prince William County schools, said, "We don't want to put something on the menu for 47,000 customers and find out they hate it."
Vol. 18, Issue 31, Page 3