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Protocol

One of the unique aspects of the upper school education at Westminster is the Protocol Course. Through training in the principles of etiquette and others-centered thinking, we strive to cultivate wisdom and virtue in our students. At various points throughout the year, each grade in the Upper School learns a particular set of skills and principles in a series of etiquette lessons. Topics include making introductions, meal etiquette, conversational skills, concert etiquette, and formal event etiquette. At the conclusion of the lessons, each grade will have the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned at a special event.

Why do we teach this course?

We believe that everyone is made in God’s image as is stated in Genesis 1, and is therefore worthy of respect. It is our hope that this training, in addition to the principles that parents are faithfully instilling in their children at home, will further equip the students to love and honor their neighbors and fellow image-bearers.

What do students think about it?

"As an alumni, my protocol experience is definitely one of my most treasured memories. I never felt like I missed anything from the ‘Prom’ experience, and I loved the chance to be beautiful, graceful, and ladylike. I also love that I still know how to waltz!" 
-Ellen Ellison, Alumna

7th Grade Protocol

Students will learn the skills of carriage, deportment, and spatial awareness in a variety of contexts, as well as the etiquette necessary to make introductions and be introduced to others.  Students will also learn museum etiquette, email etiquette and how to write a thank you note. 

Embodied virtues: Discernment, honor, respect, courage

Course topics: 

  • Good posture and body language
  • Deportment and special awareness in the classroom and in the hallway
  • Making introductions, including language and the principles of seniority, rank and gender
  • Email etiquette (sending an email to a teacher)
  • Etiquette to those around us who serve us 
  • Appropriate behavior/etiquette one should use when visiting a museum
  • How to write a thank you note

How it’s learned: Cornerstone class 3 days a week
Special Event: Field Trip to a local museum/Writing a thank you note to the docent after the event

8th Grade Protocol

Students focus on performance etiquette during the 8th grade protocol course.  We begin the course reviewing the skills learned during 7th grade protocol.
Embodied Virtues: Discernment, respect, gratitude
Course Topics:

  • Difference between manners, etiquette and protocol
  • How do we show respect in our culture? 
  • What does the way in which we carry ourselves communicate to others?
  • Making introductions and being introduced
  • Performance etiquette
  • Audience etiquette
  • Performance attire
  • Expressing yourself after a performance
  • Outdoor performance etiquette
  • Types of performance
  • How to write a thank you note

How it’s learned: Four 45 minute classes during activity period
Special Event: Reception with the board members then a field trip to see a performance at the Orpheum

9th Grade Protocol

Building upon the skills of basic table etiquette learned the previous year, students will learn formal dinner and restaurant etiquette in the context of a group, as well as the skills of making conversation and toasts in this setting.  In addition, students will learn the principles of technology etiquette, specifically pertaining to cell phones and cameras.
Embodied virtues: Discernment, orderliness, others-centeredness, honor, stewardship
Course Topics:

  • Why manners are important
  • The dinner table as a communal place     
  • Restaurant etiquette – including seating, interacting with restaurant staff, notifying the server of a problem, and tipping
  • Making polite conversation, asking thoughtful questions, and topics to avoid at the table
  • How to make a toast
  • How to respond to an invitation
  • Cell phone and camera etiquette
  • Details of how to set a table whether it be a formal or casual place setting and correct use of specific utensils
  • How to write a thank you note

How it’s learned: Five 45 minute classes during activity period
Special Event: A formal dinner party at The Tower Room

10th – 12th  Grade Protocol

10th – 12th grade protocol is a culmination of the students’ previous protocol classes where they have learned the foundations of etiquette.  Students dive into more formal lessons by learning classic ballroom and group dance steps, responding to an invitation, navigating a receiving line, and filling out dance cards. We want them to understand how all the skills they’ve learned apply to their social lives in the present, as well as in the future, preparing them for college and job interviews, and formal events.
Embodied virtues: An appreciation for those things that are good, true, and beautiful
Course Topics:

  • Dinner table conversation
  • Making polite conversation, asking thoughtful questions, and topics to avoid at the table
  • How to make a toast
  • Responding to different types of invitations
  • Interview techniques
  • Navigating a receiving line
  • Ballroom and group dance steps
  • How to fill out a dance card
  • Correct use of specific utensils at a formal dinner
  • Details of escorting a date to a social function
  • How to write a thank you note

How it’s learned: Eleven ballroom/group dance lessons, two etiquette classes and two lessons used to introduce the class, give details about the event and write thank you notes
Special Event: A formal Protocol Ball at The Memphis Country Club