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Founders Classical Academy of Dallas Director Oscar Ortiz and students

Founders Classical Academy (FCA) of Dallas Director Oscar Ortiz understands that to make a true impact on a student’s life, you have to do more than pass along standardized curriculum. As the school year came to a close, sixth-grade students traded their school uniforms for semi-formal attire and attended an Etiquette Luncheon and dance.

Ortiz reached out to Director of Book Drive for Kids Michelle Cook for help coordinating the instructional and celebratory lunch with the National League of Junior Cotillions (NLJC) and campus PTO. With a provided lunch from the local Olive Garden and step-by-step instructions from NLJC Director Jayn Smith, FCA Dallas students learned the importance and power of proper etiquette in a formal social setting.

“Many of our students don’t frequent sit-down restaurants where dining etiquette is required, but as they become adults they may be in situations where someone sitting next to them at a formal dinner may look to them as an example,” says Ortiz. This directly relates to the school motto Ductus Exemplo, meaning leading by example.

(from left to right) Jim Cook, Jayn Smith, Jerrie Cook, Carolyn Little, and Earl Little

The room was transformed into a dining hall with about four guests (students) and a host (staff member) in the head seat at each table. ResponsiveEd Special Projects Director Jim Cook and his wife Jerrie were seated at the head table as guests of honor along with Earl Little, who previously served on the ResponsiveEd board of directors, and his wife Carolyn.

Volunteers from Book Drive for Kids,  Founders Classical Academy of Lewisville and Founders Classical Academy of Flower Mound joined parents to act as servers and wait staff for the students to practice dining etiquette as Smith stressed the importance of thanking your server and always being kind. Smith then went on to explain the history and proper use of the table setting.

Michelle Cook (center) and fellow volunteers prep the students’ meals.

Following the three-course meal, conversation starter cards were used to encourage students to carry on appropriate conversation for a formal setting and many questions encouraged them to reflect on the past school year. Around the room, you could hear students discussing their favorite projects, subjects and what they look forward to in seventh-grade.


Students celebrate the end of the school year with a dance.

This was a special time for the students because sixth-grade is the highest grade offered at FCA Dallas and they will be taking their honor-based lessons learned to a new school. ResponsiveEd Campus Development Coordinator and volunteer Angela Bernstein explain that this is a graduation of sorts for the students and the dance that followed celebrated their time at FCA Dallas.

“This has been a great opportunity for the students to gain real-world experience in a formal setting.” Cook goes on to say, “Mr. Ortiz and I look forward to hosting this lunch annually and would love to see it spread across other ResponsiveEd campuses.”


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