The Social Development luncheon and dance is a special tradition at Cope Middle School.
For the past two decades, all seventh graders take part in this interdisciplinary unit that’s designed to introduce the basics of social behavior and increase awareness of the importance of proper etiquette in today’s society.
It’s a week that links “book learning” and “real-life situations.” Students are taught mini-lessons on different types of etiquette and put them on display at a luncheon, provided by seventh grade parents and generous community donors. PE classes also cover a dance unit in which the students learn various types of dance.
It all started as an idea between two teachers on a bus ride home from a field trip. Marta Hernandez and Kayla Miller have watched students transform into young ladies and gentlemen over the years.
“We were talking one day and looking for something different and unique,” Hernandez said. “We realized there was a need for this among our students.”
It started small at their school. They cleared out desks in two classrooms…eating lunch in one and dancing in another. That was 22 years ago, though.
More than 260 students traded school uniforms for their Sunday best attire and sat down last week for an elegant three course meal.
The lights were low and the candlelight danced in the center of each round table. Students placed cloth napkins delicately in their laps and discussed the week’s events amongst themselves.
“I thought the dancing would be awkward, but It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be,” one student said between bites.
“Which way do we go if we have to pass something?” math teacher Melissa Bullard asked her table.
“To the right,” they replied in unison.
It was a special moment. Bullard was among the first students at Cope to participate in the social development unit.
“This takes me back,” she said. “[Kayla Miller and Marta Hernandez] were a big influence on my life and two of the reasons why I became a teacher. They showed us that learning can be fun and taught us life skills to use in our every day lives.”
This year was even more special for Marta. Her daughter, Jessica Zylic, was also one of the first to participate in the unit and now she’s teaching her grandson, Camden, in seventh grade.
“As a parent, it’s good to see them learning and having fun doing it,” Jessica said. “This is something the will learn and put to use every day.”
An event of this size would not be possible without the community support, Jessica said. First Baptist Bossier has generously allowed them to use the Loft to serve our luncheon for many years.
Contributions were made by Cascio’s, Crescent City Bistro, Smashburger, Raising Cane’s in Shreveport, Horseshoe Hotel and Casino, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, Consider the Lillies, Vintage Rentals and Squire’s Formal Wear. Parents also volunteer their time to serve the students lunch.