One day, the members of Lake Oswego's National League of Young Men might dine at the White House or give a toast at a formal dinner party. And so this week, the group's Class of 2018 learned how to mind their manners at an Etiquette Dinner held Sunday at Tualatin Country Club.
The two dozen young men, clad in coats and ties and seated alongside young women from Lake Oswego's National Charity League, received instructions from nationally recognized etiquette expert Mindy Lockard. Lockard provides coaching on etiquette and networking skills through her business, The Gracious Girl.
"It takes a long time to develop good habits, so now is an especially good time to be working on that," Lockard says.
During the four-course meal, students learned about seating customs, formal table settings and proper eating and conversation habits. Lockard provided simple tricks to help students remember the guidelines, such as the rhyme, "As all ships go out to sea, I spoon my soup away from me."
National League of Young Men is a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing leaders through community service, charity work and cultural education. The group is designed for boys in grades 9-12; Lake Oswego's chapter held its first meeting in February 2016.
Lake Oswego mother Diane Gerot has twin sons in the group's class of 2018. She says Sunday's dinner fit under the organization's "pillar of protocol. It helps prepare these high school juniors for their approaching senior year, which includes college interviews, and the professional working world ahead of them."
Gerot says she was eager to see how the Etiquette Dinner impacted her boys.
"This really is a powerful lesson," she says. "You can be a boy, but it's good
to know when it's time to be a gentleman."
One of her sons, Lakeridge High School junior Mitch Gerot, says he was fascinated by the intricacies of the etiquette dinner, which included everything from how to pass a bread basket to how to share a toast with tablemates.
"It's kind of interesting to see all the little rules you have to abide by," he says. "They're definitely useful skills in a formal location, like a wedding or a formal dinner."
Lake Oswego High School junior Winston Moore appreciated learning about what to do with each of his utensils, such as the variety of forks to the left of his plate.
"You don't want to offend anyone, you want to just give off a good presentation," he says. "I'll definitely start noticing other people's etiquette a lot more."
Lockard, who lives in Lake Oswego, has been teaching etiquette for 13 years. She's trained and certified through the Protocol School of Washington.
She's seen her classes become increasingly popular among young people who are hungry to learn proper techniques and bolster their social skills.
While some might think of the rules as stifling, Lockard says people who have formed good etiquette habits — and don't have to worry about what to do — can more easily show kindness and consideration to the people around them.
"For me, etiquette is about confidence," Lockard says. "Knowing what to do allows students to arrive in a room, get over themselves and focus on others. When we can do that, we're able to interact more authentically."
For more information about Lake Oswego's National League of Young Men chapter, go to www.nlymlakeoswego.org.