Success is dependent on more than just academics, according to Bluffton Middle School assistant principal Francina Shack. Yes, academics are important, but so are good manners and being exposed to a little culture.
"Developing a well-rounded student is important," Shack said. "If you have a student that's all academics but they don't have any culture or they're not respectful, they don't behave well, they're not going to go far in life. If you have a student that's just well-behaved but they don't do well in school, then they're not going to go far."
Shack oversees the school's Ladies' Club, a program of The Peters Group that is used across the country and in several schools districtwide. The Ladies' Club strives to empower and inspire girls to succeed.
At Bluffton Middle, a group of girls meets once a week to discuss a variety of subjects, including etiquette, proper attire and hygiene.
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Seventh-grader Jennifer Moradel is the president of the club. She said she has learned how to be more ladylike, more respectful and more responsible.
On top of learning those skills, Jennifer said she enjoys the club because it's fun.
"I like the fact that I get to hang out with my friends, and I get to meet new people," she said.
The students have been rewarded for their good behavior with a pizza party, a trip to the bowling alley, a movie at the theater and other field trips.
These outings have served as more than just rewards. They are exposing them to new experiences. Shack said some of the girls thanked for her taking them bowling because they had never been. They went to see "The Nutcracker" in December in Columbia. They visited The Penn Center for Black History Month.
"This is something they're going to be able to use for the rest of their lives," Shack said.
The girls aren't the only ones preparing for a successful future. Bluffton Middle, along with other schools in the county, also has a Gentlemen's Club. Computer technology teacher and department chairman Roy Gordon is the advisor for the club at the middle school.
"Knowing how to carry yourself is important in everything you do," Gordon said. "People measure you and assess you based on little things you do."
He said it's important to know when to stand, when to sit, how to shake hands properly and how to behave at a formal meal. After these students finish school and move into corporate America, they will need to know these skills. He said something as simple as using the correct fork could determine whether they get a job or not.
"How do the kids learn it if we don't teach it to them?" Gordon asked. "Some will get it at home; others will not."
Follow Amy Coyne Bredeson at twitter.com/IPBG_Amy.