One of the unique aspects of the upper school education at Westminster is the Protocol Course. Through training in the principles of etiquette and others-centered thinking, we strive to cultivate wisdom and virtue in our students. At various points throughout the year, each grade in the Upper School learns a particular set of skills and principles in a series of etiquette lessons. Topics include making introductions, meal etiquette, conversational skills, concert etiquette, and formal event etiquette. At the conclusion of the lessons, each grade will have the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned at a special event.

Why do we teach this course?

Philippians 2:4

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

We believe that everyone is made in God’s image as is stated in Genesis 1 and is therefore worthy of respect. It is our hope that this training, in addition to the principles that parents are faithfully instilling in their children at home, will further equip the students to love and honor their neighbors and fellow image-bearers, as Christ has called us to love at their school, in their homes and in the community.

What's so great about Protocol?

  “I have come to believe (that Protocol Ball) is THE most distinctive thing we do. Multiple people at the venue asked what in the world was going on. They had never seen anything like it. In a world where our culture is dragging us to the ugly and dark, Protocol Ball stands out as something truly beautiful and of great value…They showed that they can show their individuality dressing with taste and beauty. They can dance like crazy without any hint of unseemliness…It’s the purest form of fun.” -ELIZABETH PECKHAM, GRAMMAR SCHOOL TEACHER

What do students think about it?

  As an alumni, my protocol experience is definitely one of my most treasured memories. I never felt like I missed anything from the ‘Prom’ experience, and I loved the chance to be beautiful, graceful, and ladylike. I also love that I still know how to Waltz! -ELLEN ELLISON, WESTMINSTER ALUMNI

7th Grade Protocol

Students will learn the skills of carriage, deportment, and spatial awareness in a variety of contexts, as well as the etiquette necessary to make introductions and be introduced to others.  Students will also learn museum etiquette, email etiquette and how to write a thank you note. 

Embodied virtues:  Discernment, honor, respect, courage

Course topics: 

  • Good posture and body language
  • Deportment and special awareness in the classroom and in the hallway
  • Making introductions, including language and the principles of seniority, rank and gender
  • Email etiquette (sending an email to a teacher)
  • Etiquette to those around us who serve us (Mr. Clear, Picadilly servers, etc.)
  • Appropriate behavior/etiquette one should use when visiting a museum
  • How to write a thank you note

How it’s learned: Cornerstone class 3 days a week

Special Event:  Field Trip to a local museum/Writing a thank you note to the docent after the event

8th Grade Protocol

Students focus on performance etiquette during the 8th grade protocol course.  We begin the course reviewing the skills learned during 7th grade protocol.

Embodied Virtues: Discernment, respect, gratitude

Course Topics:

  • Difference between manners, etiquette and protocol
  • How do we show respect in our culture? 
  • What does the way in which we carry ourselves communicate to others?
  • Making introductions and being introduced
  • Performance etiquette
  • Audience etiquette
  • Performance attire
  • Expressing yourself after a performance
  • Outdoor performance etiquette
  • Types of performance
  • How to write a thank you note

How it’s learned: Four 45 minute classes during activity period

Special Event:  Reception with the board members then a field trip to see a performance at the Orpheum

9th Grade Protocol

Building upon the skills of basic table etiquette learned the previous year, students will learn formal dinner and restaurant etiquette in the context of a group, as well as the skills of making conversation and toasts in this setting.  In addition, students will learn the principles of technology etiquette, specifically pertaining to cell phones and cameras.

Embodied virtuesDiscernment, orderliness, others-centeredness, honor, stewardship

Course Topics

  • Why manners are important
  • The dinner table as a communal place     
  • Restaurant etiquette – including seating, interacting with restaurant staff, notifying the server of a problem, and tipping
  • Making polite conversation, asking thoughtful questions, and topics to avoid at the table
  • How to make a toast
  • How to respond to an invitation
  • Cell phone and camera etiquette
  • Details of how to set a table whether it be a formal or casual place setting and correct use of specific utensils
  • How to write a thank you note

How it’s learned: Five 45 minute classes during activity period

Special Event:  A formal dinner party at The Tower Room


10th – 12th  Grade Protocol

10th – 12th grade protocol is a culmination of the students’ previous protocol classes where they have learned the foundations of etiquette.  Students dive into more formal lessons by learning classic ballroom and group dance steps, responding to an invitation, navigating a receiving line, and filling out dance cards. We want them to understand how all the skills they’ve learned tie together not only their present life, but also into future situations, such as job and college interviews, formal events in college and more.

Embodied virtuesAn appreciation for those things that are good, true, and beautiful

Course Topics

  • Dinner table conversation
  • Making polite conversation, asking thoughtful questions, and topics to avoid at the table
  • How to make a toast
  • Responding to different types of invitations
  • Interview techniques
  • Navigating a receiving line
  • Ballroom and group dance steps
  • How to fill out a dance card
  • Correct use of specific utensils at a formal dinner
  • Details of escorting a date to a social function
  • How to write a thank you note

How it’s learned: Eleven ballroom/group dance lessons, two etiquette classes and two lessons used to introduce the class, give details about the event and write thank you notes

Special Event:  A formal Protocol Ball at The Memphis Country Club

See it in Action

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