Charleston may have retired from the national "Most Mannerly City" competition last year after a 12-year reign, but that doesn't stop us from continuing to bring our children up the right way.

On Saturday, 16 children ages 6 to 10 crawled out of bed bright and early to learn important tips on properly introducing themselves and where to put their napkin if they have to excuse themselves during a meal at the Charleston Museum's Petite Protocol program.

Led by Lizz Akerman of Southern Protocol, the class included instruction on how to set a table followed by an imaginary meal in which the youngsters learned how to eat bread, eat from a bowl, how to hold a knife and fork and more.

Akerman, who also led classes and camps at other locations throughout the Lowcountry this summer, said she sometimes faces a tough audience.

"You can tell sometimes some of the boys don't want to be here," she said. "So we make superhero puppets to win the boys' hearts."

The puppets are designed to help the students remember to use "super" words like "please," "thank you" and "sorry."

"When they head back to school in a few days, they can be the most polite students there," Akerman said.

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or