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Students Master Manners

Students master manners

The children stand in a line at the front of the gym. One after the other they speak, pharm each saying “hello” in his or her native tongue.

The children stand in a line at the front of the gym. One after the other they speak, each saying “hello” in his or her native tongue.

By the time the end of the line was reached, an even dozen languages, apart from English, were represented, from Arabic to Vietnamese.

Surrey’s Georges Vanier Elementary has been working since the start of the school year on a project inspired by Judi Vankevich, aka Judi the Manners Lady. She calls it “Say Hello to All the World: a 2010 Challenge” and Vanier is the first in this city to accept.

More than 30 languages are spoken by students there and each week one of them gets on the school PA system to teach the rest of the school how to say “hello” in his or her tongue. The students practice all week, then move on to the next mother tongue.

The goal is to have everyone at Georges Vanier learn all of the variations and progress is being made.

“We weren’t really aware of how many different languages we have here,” said principal Burt Deeter.

“It started with a few kids speaking their language on the PA and before we knew it, other kids started coming forward.”

The language project is just one component in Vankevich’s crusade to make this a better world by teaching children to have good manners and a respectful attitude. The Langley-based Manners Lady makes the rounds of schools with her energetic and upbeat good manners concert that features songs and role-playing exercises promoting civility.

It’s full audience participation and although some of Vankevich’s assertions might seem a bit simplistic to adults, the kids love it. They’ve been enthusiastic participants in Vankevich’s Manners Club since September and they’ve got a pretty good idea what’s expected of them.

Asked to give examples of good manners, the members of the Vanier audience call out their suggestions.

“Don’t interrupt.”

“Be polite.”

“Don’t be mean.”

Prompted for examples of bad manners, the kids are all over it, citing swearing, fighting and bullying as illustrations of uncivilized behaviour.

When I get angry or frustrated, Vankevich told her young audience, I use a little trick my mother taught me to avoid an ill-mannered response.

“She just bit her tongue a little longer.”

Deeter said Vanier students have become better mannered since Vankevich began her program in September.

“We still have instances of poor manners, like any school, but overall I’d say it’s better.”

Jaz Sangha is a Grade 6 student at Vanier and he likes what’s happened since the Manners Club came to town.

“It’s nice to learn manners and to be polite. It’s made a lot of difference.”

© (c) CanWest MediaWorks Publications Inc.
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