PITTSBURG, Kan. — What’s the best form for a proper handshake? When you sit down to a business lunch, where do you place your napkin? And which fork are you supposed to use?
High school students from Pittsburg, Parsons and Fort Scott got all those questions answered and more during an etiquette luncheon last week at Pittsburg State University. The event, hosted by the PSU Enactus club, sought to give the high schoolers a crash course in how to behave and network in a professional setting — skills they’ll need once they graduate.
“We want to prepare students with formal professional skills,” said Molly Menefee, a PSU senior in her second year with Enactus. “It gets them ready, if those students decide to get a job right out of high school.”
Enactus is made up of PSU students who are committed to using entrepreneurship to shape a better, more sustainable world. In the past, club members have developed a hydroponics system for a Haitian orphanage, held a coat and blanket drive to benefit the city’s homeless population and operated the Krimson Kultuur store downtown.
“Our projects allow us to step outside the comfort of the classroom and apply our knowledge to real solutions that affect real people,” said David Hogard, director of academic advising, career readiness and Enactus.
For the etiquette luncheon, Enactus partnered with Communities in Schools, an organization that leads programs to eliminate poverty among K-12 students. Approximately 50 high schoolers were treated to a buffet lunch and a presentation on proper etiquette during business lunches. An Enactus member was seated at every table to serve as a mentor.
“Working with these students, it gives us a good opportunity to be part of the community and have an effect on these students’ lives,” Menefee said.
Lewis Dunkeson, the Communities in Schools coordinator at Fort Scott High School, said he looks for programs that can support his students in building their future careers and encouraging them to get their high school diploma. The etiquette event aligned nicely with those goals, but there was another key benefit to his students, he said.
“We get to come on the Pittsburg State campus, and that alone is an opportunity to get the kids out of Fort Scott and see what’s out there,” he said.
Chelsea Killion, a senior at Fort Scott High School, said she looked forward to learning how to act in the professional world.
“That sounds like something I’ll use in the future, so it will be pretty helpful,” she said.
There is still one skill Killion hopes to conquer as she looks toward her graduation and subsequent enrollment at Fort Scott Community College: public speaking.
“If I plan to be a teacher, I’ll need to know how to talk more,” she said.
The event was made possible with a grant from the Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas. Donations from the Parsons and Pittsburg Rotary clubs and J.C. Penney in Pittsburg enabled Enactus to also provide the high school students with a $40 gift card to J.C. Penney to be used toward the purchase of business attire.