Sunday, April 26, 2009

An Evening of Gentility

Last weekend John and I were part of something that is quite unusual in our modern culture--an evening of gentility. He teaches at Veritas School, which provides a classical education for kindergarten through twelfth grade. Yes, they even learn Latin!

The biggest social event of their year is Protocol. This is something that all high schoolers can attend, but is in honor of the seniors. Seating is limited, so not all staff are invited. But John and I received an invitation this year, and it was a joy to participate.

It was held at the country club in Wilsonville. All the girls wore floor-length gowns in spring colors. No blacks. We women could wear knee-length dresses, which was a blessing for me since I'm so tall it would be nearly impossible to find a long gown. The boys and men all wore suits and ties.

Round tables for eight were covered with crisp white tablecloths, a beautiful arrangement of flowers gracing the center. Each table was hosted by a senior student, who was responsible to see that the conversation didn't lag. We had no problem with that at our table! John and I were the only adults and really enjoyed the students we shared the four-course meal with.

So what made this evening so genteel? The gorgeous setting certainly helped. The teens were polite and showed wonderful manners. The males at each table rose whenever a woman stood to leave or return to the table. I've never seen that happen any place but in books! Toasts were made to each senior, often by a younger brother or sister. The sentiments were heartfelt, often resulting in tears by the honoree, and sometimes by the person offering the toast. And the dancing--it was like nothing I've seen outside of movies. The young ladies stood on one side of the room, the young men on the other. They would approach the women and ask for the "pleasure of this dance" then escort them to that side of the room when the dance was through, and tell them thank you.

The dancing itself was very unusual, in a good way. It began with the Grand March, which was like something out of Jane Austen. There was a grand promenade, with weaving back and forth, in and out, between the other couples. They did the Virginia Reel, an Irish dance, and a waltz. No bodies pressed closely together, feet barely moving. Nothing like the sensual atmosphere that permeates most dances nowadays. The whole event was done so well--everyone had fun and it honored Christ. I hope we get an invitation again next year!


Robin Johns Grant said...

That sounds like so much fun! And what an incredible experience for high-schoolers. Hardly anyone learns etiquette and manners these days.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Sherrie! I love the Virginia Reel! Very fun dance to twirl to!
Thanks for sharing.
-Debbie M.

Sherrie Ashcraft said...

Yes, Debbie, I remember dancing the Virginia Reel in PE class in high school It was fun! Thanks for stopping by!