BOUNTIFUL — Washington Elementary sixth-graders went the whole nine yards to celebrate the day of love Friday — complete with flowers, candy, corsages, dancing and chivalry in spades.

The event was comparable to a high school prom, only the beaus were inches to a foot shorter than the beauties and for nearly all the preteens, this was their first dance ever.

Teachers Mendy Gardner and Amberly Cox had set aside time for dance instruction since September as part of their P.E. curriculum. And for the past week they taught lessons in etiquette to get the youngsters prepared for the annual sixth-grade Valentine's dance and breakfast.

The day started out with boys seating the girls at lavishly decorated tables for a pancake breakfast. They all turned out in their Sunday best — or better. Many of the girls bought new dresses just for the occasion.

The students were well versed in basic etiquette — how to eat correctly, make a place setting, use napkins. For the boys, there was the added responsibility for correctly escorting and seating the girls.

Some parents said their children were up hours earlier than usual getting ready and preparing for the event — even some boys.

"The girls are all for it; it's the boys that are usually hesitant," said Gardner.

But Jeremy Ross, 11, was in his own element of excitement.

"I got to dance with two of the partners I wanted — the girls look especially good today," said Ross.

Karissa Owen, 11, had some jitters but was ready to try out her new heels and new moves with the boys.

"It took me forever to get ready — twice as long to do my make-up, three times as long to do my hair and five times as long to put on my clothes," said Owen.

After the breakfast, students promenaded into a Valentine-decorated multi-purpose room. They danced the fox trot, waltz, swing and even a few line dances in front of a crowd of beaming parents.

The teachers also coordinated dance cards among the students so everyone had a dance partner for every dance.

The etiquette event has been a tradition at Washington for years, said principal Christine McCoy. It's a superb way to get kids excited about etiquette and dancing while celebrating Valentine's Day.


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