by Merrie Leininger
Yes, ma'am, no, ma'am, please and thank you.
Many people, including the staff of Scarselli Elementary School, have noticed a decline in language such as this in the past few years, and school officials decided to do something about it.
Every few months the students attend a manners assembly that focuses on different issues - good manners in the classroom, good manners in the hallways and this past week, good manners on the playground.
"We have an emphasis on using good manners and thinking about other people around you, not just thinking about yourself," said counselor Edna Doornink.
She said the assemblies started two years ago when the staff noticed something.
"We noticed the children were not using good manners and their language was deteriorating. We wanted to make sure all the children know what good manners are. Most learn them at home but some don't, so we teach it and then we model it and use it," Doornink said.
She said the assemblies have definitely improved the atmosphere of the school.
"Adults who come into our school say, 'Boy, your kids use such nice manners,'" she said.
The students who are observed using the lessons they are taught have an opportunity to take part in fun relays at the assemblies if their name is drawn. They are recognized at the assembly and receive a small prize, such as a piece of candy.
Those incentives are what the students seem to like about the assemblies.
"With the games at the end, it's become more fun. You have to have good manners and the teacher puts a slip into a box and we pick them. Last time, we wrapped them up like a mummy and the fastest team won," said Kirby Wigton, a fourth grader.
Lynslie Sergent, a sixth-grader, and fifth-grader Amber Phillips said the assemblies teach the students better manners.
"They teach us how to act in the hallways and the right ways and wrong ways. They teach about respecting others and how to act on the playground and how to treat the yard duties," Lynslie said.
"It reminds them to use their manners and try the best they can," Amber said. "I've seen some kids say 'please' and 'excuse me' and that stuff, and also stop in the hallways when people are walking so they don't butt in and stuff."
Fourth-grader Danielle Munk said both the assemblies and the students' manners could still use some improving.
"People don't really listen that good (to the manners lessons). If they made it more funny, maybe they would," she said. "(Students need to) not use bad language, especially on the fields, and just not be mean and say mean stuff."
Fifth-graders Danny Harington and Jesse Ramos said it will just take more time for the students to absorb the message of the manners assemblies.
"At the end of the year, they might start to understand," Danny said. He said students too often tease each other.
"I think they will see the improvement," Jesse said. "The kids start behaving more because they want those (certificates)."