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Hawthorne P.E.T.A.L.S. honor mothers with tea party

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Daphney Johnson has had her etiquette corrected more than once, in restaurants by her daughter, Deonna, a fifth-grader at Hawthorne Elementary School.

Deonna Johnson is a member of the group, Producing Excellence That Always Leads to Success (P.E.T.A.L.S.), which teaches etiquette, business skills, life skills and manners to fourth-, and fifth-grade, female students at Hawthorne. The members learn skills, such as how to sit at a table in a restaurant, and how to eat a meal with grace.

"I have a daughter [Deonna], who checked me, and my older daughter, at a restaurant recently," Daphney Johnson said. "We were sitting down, and she said 'You're supposed to put your napkin in your lap when you eat. I learned that in P.E.T.A.L.S.'"

P.E.T.A.L.S. held it's second annual Mother-Daughter Tea on Wednesday, and more than 100 students and parents were in attendance. Members of the group stood up in front of the other attendees and explained why they loved their mothers, before bonding with their maternal parents over cake and punch. The members also gave roses, and certificates, to their mothers.

Etorsha Reese, the group's founder, said the event is held every year "to honor the mothers and give appreciation for everything they do."

The mothers, though, had a shared sentiment of thanks toward Reese, the other sponsors of P.E.T.A.L.S., and the administrators at Hawthorne, for letting the group exist.

"This group has a very positive influence on female students, because it teaches them to be a lady," said Sharon Watson-Little, mother of P.E.T.A.L.S. member, April Little. "My daughter now helps set the table at home because she's learned how to do it in P.E.T.A.L.S.," Watson-Little added.

"My daughter has become more responsible, she's starting to focus more on her future plans," said Bea Robinson, whose daughter, Shashona, is a fourth-grader at Hawthorne, and a first-year member of P.E.T.A.L.S.

Shannan Baker, mother of Chelsea Baker, added, "my daughter used to smack her mouth when she ate, but she's really gotten better at not doing that since she joined P.E.T.A.L.S. This has really been a positive influence on her."

Brenda Adkins said she's seen a shift in the way her daughter, Haley, a fourth-grader, behaves in public because of P.E.T.A.L.S. Part of learning etiquette with the group means the members are learning how to show respect when they are speaking to other people by using phrases such as "yes ma'am," and "no sir."

"She's [Haley] more caring towards other people," Brenda Adkins said. "I'm glad my daughter is in the group, and she'll be in it again next year. My younger daughter [Megan] is two years away from being able to join P.E.T.A.L.S., but she'll be in it, too, when she's old enough.