The sounds of Franz Liszt's "Liebestraum" gently wafted across the room as 60 Parole Elementary School students strolled into the school's dining hall, transformed momentarily into a fine dining establishment.
Well, maybe strolled isn't quite the correct word. After all, these were fifth-graders. Actually, they made more of a mad -- yesterday before sitting down for their invitation-only, formal luncheon and social.
"We wanted the kids to feel special," said Principal Charles Bowers. "We wanted them to have a chance to get dressed up and experience what it's like dining in a fine restaurant."
The idea, Bowers said, was to teach the students a lesson in etiquette before they leave for middle school.
Each student was sent an invitation to the luncheon and social. And, each student had to respond.
The young boys came in button-down shirts, ties and suits. The girls came in flowery, frilly dresses. Many confessed they were wearing clothes most often reserved for church.
The boys were given boutonnieres and the girls were given corsages as they sat down at tables topped with blue tablecloths and flowers.
Bowers, dressed in a chef's hat and "Kiss the Cook" apron, was joined by teachers, counselors and other school personnel who served the students a lunch of mashed potatoes, turkey, stuffing, and, of course, milk.
Crystal Watkins, 11, said the easy part was responding to the invitation. The hard part was deciding what to wear.
"It took me awhile to pick this out," Crystal said looking down at her floral-print dress.
Crystal and the half dozen girls sitting near her said they had not yet decided whether they were going to dance with the boys during the social. However, Crystal said it might not be too bad since "fast music" would be played at the social and the girls wouldn't have to touch the boys.
The boys didn't seem too enthusiastic about dancing with the girls, either.
"Yeah, I guess I'll dance with them," 11-year-old John Estep III said hesitantly.
But Trey Stewart, 11, gave an emphatic "No" when asked if he would dance with the girls.
After sampling the dessert tray, which carried cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, and that all-time kid favorite, Jell-O, the students were led out of their fine dining establishment to wait as the room was made suitable for their social.
When the fifth-graders returned minutes later, the gentle sounds of Liszt had been replaced by the hard-driving beat of rapper Young MC. The boys sat at one table on one side of the room and the girls sat at another on the opposite side of the room.
However, soon they began to dance -- the boys in one group, the girls in another. A few, brave young men ventured out to join the girls. But, alas, the girls still outnumbered them.
The girl weren't discouraged. They did what any progressive, assertive young women in their positions would do. They went and literally dragged a few boys out of their seats.