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Debs learn modern-day manners

Silver Rose debutantes prepare for future, Grand Ball with etiquette class

Posted: March 4, 2009 10:29 p.m.
Updated: March 5, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Health Foundation Silver Rose debutantes Sarah Turchan, Alexandra Crowder and Katie Baker set the table during an etiquette class held at Salt Creek Grille. The etiquette training is just one component of the debutante program, now in its 23rd year. The high school seniors are also required to provide 50 hours of comm...

For 18 years, Alexandra Crowder didn’t know which side her bread was buttered. She learned the answer during an etiquette class held for the Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Health Foundation Silver Rose Guild debutantes recently at Salt Creek Grille.

“The bread part was very interesting,” said Crowder, a William S. Hart High School senior. “All of it will serve me well in the future.”

That’s exactly the point, according to Louise Elerding, an etiquette and personal appearance coach and author of “You’ve Got Manners,” who led the debutante’s etiquette class.

“Knowing etiquette gives people confidence and when you have that, doors open. It gives you an extra advantage, because you’ll fit in at any social level and be able to adapt to any experience you might encounter in the professional world,” Elerding said.

The 2008-09 class of eight debutantes learned table manners over a four-course dinner, presented by Salt Creek Catering.

High school seniors in the program include Kebra Elizabeth Sedam, Alexandra Nicole Crowder, Noelle Chadbourne, Katie Megan Baker, and Kaila Marie Caroline Pascua of Hart High School, Sarah Nicole Turchan of Flintridge High School, Jennifer Rios of Saugus High School, Laura Rose Wehn of Academy of the Canyons, and Heather Kate Duncan of Opportunities for Learning Charter School.

The etiquette training is just one component of the Silver Rose Debutante Program, now in its 23rd year.

 The program requires 50 hours of community service, including planning and attending hospital fund-raisers, as well as a season of exciting events.

Registration costs for the program are $1,500 for the year.

Funds raised from the debutante program benefit laboratory services at Newhall Memorial.

Instruction started with a hands-on run-through of place settings and arranging glasses before advancing on to how to pass salt and pepper properly.

Selecting the right utensil for each dish, and how one should always tear bread in pieces, then butter each piece, rather than slathering the whole slice or roll, were also hot topics.

As sparkling apple cider was poured by Guild president Catherine Montoya, debutante Jennifer Rios asked the question that was on everyone’s minds.

“How should I hold this glass up?”

Elerding replied, “By the stem. Always hold it by the stem.”

Debutante Heather Duncan was all smiles during the class.

“I think this is wonderful. It’s nice getting the knowledge we’ll need for the ball,” she said.

The Grand Ball, to be held at the Universal Sheraton on March 29, is the formal culmination of the eight-month debutante season.

Attended by debutante’s family, friends and esteemed members of the community, the ball begins with a military escort to the stage.

The dramatic entrance is  followed by a grand waltz performed by each debutante and her father and finally, a four-course dinner and dancing.

As all eyes will be on the debutantes during the ball, etiquette will be especially crucial.

“People expect debutantes to have extensive etiquette knowledge and we respect them for it,” Elerding said.

Duncan, for one, is ready.

“I’m getting excited. It feels really good to know the proper way to do all this,” she said.

At the end of the class, Elerding reminded the debutantes about the secondary, but equally critical role, etiquette plays in the world.

“When people are considerate and kind, it shows they’re looking out for others. A little kindness goes a long way in this world,” Elerding said.

For more information on the Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Health Foundation Silver Rose Debutante Program or to purchase tickets for The Grand Ball, call (661) 253-8051 or visit


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