Monday, September 18, 2006

Western Michigan Sig Eps Start Tradition in Kalamazoo

Schools eat up classes on etiquette
Monday, September 18, 2006
By William R. Woodbwood@kalamazoogazette.com 388-8549

More young people are dining at Webster's, one of Kalamazoo's few fine-dining restaurants, than you might think.

The restaurant, which has been offering etiquette classes for junior high, high school and college students since 2001 at the Radisson Plaza Hotel & Suites, has seen a dramatic increase in the number of schools interested in the classes.

The restaurant first offered classes for students from Kalamazoo, Portage, Comstock and Vicksburg. Now the classes include students from Calhoun and St. Joseph counties and home-schoolers.

``It is not a moneymaker for us. It is a community-builder,'' said Tony Masco, the Radisson's marketing director, who came up with the idea.

Last year, Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity of Western Michigan University brought in a nationally recognized authority on etiquette, Nonie Cameron Owens, to speak to students, said Webster's hostess Barbara Slates, who teaches the etiquette classes. Since then, Slate has consulted Owens as she coordinates her classes.

``Etiquette consists of a lot more than rules about knives and forks,'' Slates said. ``Dining is only one aspect of etiquette. Etiquette is about building relationships, ethics, character. When I'm talking to young children, I'm talking about character. When I'm talking to high school and college students, I'm talking about impression management.''