Students eating dinner

The etiquette dinner table gathering invites students from Renaissance Academy and UMB to include good tables manners on their path to success.

Five forks. One dinner fork, a dessert fork, a cocktail fork, another for fish, another for salad. And four knives. Each with a specific purpose. Also, a position for each napkin, glass, and utensil to signify to the wait staff if you were finished eating or simply resting. Fine dining can seem daunting, but thankfully last Thursday on the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) campus, the International School of Protocol coached many students through a four-course meal with lessons on dining with etiquette.  

Many universities host etiquette dinners for their students, but few if any include high school students. This etiquette dinner was unique because it included students from UMB and Renaissance Academy together.

Shirley Green, the Promise Heights College and Career Coordinator at Renaissance Academy, said the impetus for her high school students joining the etiquette dinner came from her experience as a college student when she attended the dinner. The coaching helped her transform professionally, and she hopes it accomplishes the same thing for her students.

“You’re in front of people, and the last thing you need to worry about is if my tie is put on right, if my suit is correct, if I’m eating the proper way, and am I eating too much,” Green said. She added that prospective employers are taking note of your table manners.  

She’s likely right.

For the past six months, Forbes magazine has published an article each month on the importance of etiquette. Green didn’t want her Renaissance Academy students to be without this important networking skill set or feeling unprepared for upcoming out-of-state college tours.

Undoubtedly, for Nakiyah Smith, the short walk from her high school to the UMB campus felt a lot like a college tour.  

Smith says getting to meet new people, especially the UMB student whose spouse studies engineering, was the best part of the evening because she wants to study civil engineering.

“I’m pretty sure all of them learned something new,” Green said.

About Promise Heights

The Promise Heights initiative was established in 2009 by the University of Maryland School of Social Work to improve educational outcomes for youth and ensure families are healthy and successful in the West Baltimore community of Upton/Druid Heights.

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