Learning social graces

Knowing how to use a knife and fork properly probably isn't the most important skill in the world. But something as seemingly trivial as that may figure in whether someone moves up the corporate ladder or finds success in the marketplace.

Manners -- how to shake someone's hand, how to hold a chair for a woman, how to butter your bread at a restaurant -- are levelers. They are a signal that people understand and follow the commonly accepted rules of courtesy and social interaction.

Once that social compact has been made, people are free to move on. But without manners, the situation can remain awkward. And that may be the difference between being hired or not, getting a promotion or not, getting a second date or not ... and on and on.

A group of guys at the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity of Winthrop University know the importance of the social graces. That is why they and some Kappa alums from other schools formed the Kappa League Mentoring Program.

For the past school year, the fraternity brothers took 29 seventh-graders from Rock Hill's Castle Heights Middle School under their wing, teaching them the ins and outs of etiquette. The lessons ended with a restaurant dinner, where the students had the chance to show what they had learned.

We applaud all the Kappa Alpha Psi members who participated in this program, giving their time to help some seventh-graders learn skills that will serve them well for the rest of their lives. It may seem like a little thing now, but it is likely to be a significant plank in the bridge to success for these young men and ladies.

Good work, gentlemen.

Fraternity brothers joined to give some seventh-graders tips on manners and being polite.