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Students of the Family Court Attendance Centre in Kingston showed off their newly acquired skills in social etiquette and dining, as they participated in an Evening of Excellence, hosted by the institution for their benefit.

The students had previously benefitted from training in these areas and were on Wednesday, April 24, placed in the spotlight to shine in front of their families and special guests.

Custos of St. Andrew, Hon. Marigold Harding, who was guest speaker at the event, reminded the smartly dressed students that observing the social graces and etiquette is for everyone, regardless of their age or status in life.

She noted that technological advancements, a redefinition of the family, and the “all pervasive news and entertainment media” have resulted in a whole new set of challenges in observing social etiquette.

“As time goes by there are changes in what is accepted as the norm. But in a time when it seems that anything goes, it has become necessary for a new set of guidelines for courteous behaviour,” she observed.

Mrs. Harding pointed out, however, that good manners never change and “rest on the same bedrock principles of respect, consideration, honesty, graciousness and deference.”

She encouraged the students to try and develop good habits, which will always be with them and stressed the importance of being on time, noting that it is one of the first signs of being polite.

She also urged the parents to let the children practise at home, what they have learnt in the course.

In the meantime, Director of Client Services, Communication and Information at the Court Management Services, Sydian Brissett, commended the Family Court Attendance Centre for providing training in this area, noting that it provides parents with guidance on a critical area they may need to emphasise in their family setting.

“Today, as you come to practise what you have learnt, don’t let it stop here, but continue to use this knowledge at home, and other social and formal events that you will attend. Share the new information with your parents, siblings and peers in your community,” she advised.

She informed the students that dining etiquette and social graces are increasingly becoming an asset that employers look for in potential employees.

“These soft skills will make the difference between yourself and other persons, who are not equipped with these skills. It is, therefore, important that as you seek to advance academically, your social skills are on par with the best practices of the society,” Ms. Brissett added.

Student, Tami Young, told JIS News that she was happy for the training. “It benefits me because I now get some more exposure in life. I now know how to behave when I am in a formal setting,” she said.

Awards were handed out to the Best Diner; Best Escort and King and Queen of the Family Court Attendance Centre.

The facility was established in 1978 as a non-residential, rehabilitation institution to provide continuing education for young people, age 12 to 17 years, who have been through the Family Court and are not able to fit into the normal school system due to social and behavioural problems. The Attendance Centre is located at 79 Duke Street, Kingston.

By Andrea Braham, JIS Reporter