Young gentlemen get etiquette lesson

Jerome Brown, right, admires artwork on display while touring The Ritz-Calrton, Grand Cayman as part of the Boyz 2 Men group from John Gray High School. - Photo: Mark Muckenfuss

A group of 31 John Gray High School students got a lesson in dining etiquette and a behind-the-scenes tour of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman on Wednesday as part of the school’s Boyz 2 Men program, which aims to provide guidance into the adult world.

Program director Christopher Murray, a counselor at John Gray, said the nine-year-old program was originally designed to help at-risk boys. This year, he said the scope broadened.

“We tried to mix the group a little bit,” Mr. Murray said.

The idea was to allow boys with model behavior to help those who might be struggling.

“I’m in discussions now to broaden the scope even further,” he said.

That is because demand for the program has exceeded the number of spots available. Mr. Murray said he has been contacted by students who want to join but cannot.

Wednesday morning, the boys sat in Blue restaurant and received instruction on how to handle themselves in a formal dining setting. The training was in preparation for next month when, as part of the program, members of the group will take their mothers to dinner. Most likely, Mr. Murray said, they will dine at Grand Old House.

Ed Chisholm, human resources manager, said the etiquette lesson gives the young men a level of confidence they might not otherwise enjoy.

“The advantage is it gives them the opportunity to see the skills they need if they go out to a restaurant,” he said. “It allows them to have a positive experience.”

Daniel Wallace, 15, said he joined the group after some friends told him about it.

“Mostly, I heard it was a good group to be in if you wanted to be more than just a boy, but a gentleman,” Daniel said. “I learned a lot over time about handling yourself at school and showing your best behavior.”

Boys in the group wear neckties with their school uniforms, which makes them stand out on campus, said Jacob Kelly, 15.

“It’s kind of like being a prefect,” Jacob said. “This program shows me how to be a good role model.”

During their tour of the hotel, the group passed by kitchens, a laundry area and the employee break room. They were also shown some of the guest amenities, walking past the artwork on the walls of the bridge that crosses West Bay Road, and some of the hotel’s retail shops.

Restaurant manager Wesley Hepburn showed them the real estate office where guests can purchase a home in Cayman, and pointed out the Rolex shop.

“So, you’ve just had a nice breakfast,” he said to the boys. “You can stop here and pick up your Rolex before heading to the beach.”

No one bought a watch. But Mr. Chisholm encouraged them to think big.

“I believe you are all capable of great things,” he said before the group boarded a bus to head back to John Gray.

On the way, now armed with a new knowledge of dining etiquette, they stopped for lunch at Burger King.