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About Our Manners Are Fun Program

modern day manners

Children today are growing up in an increasingly rude and disrespectful world. Common courtesies and everyday manners are often the exception rather than the norm. Traditionally, manners were taught in the home, but in today’s society that is frequently not occurring.

The Manners Are Fun Program can help!

What is the MANNERS ARE FUN Program?

The Manners Are Fun Program is an interactive program on everyday manners for first graders. It is sponsored by the Thomas Duncan Hall, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation whose purpose is, in part, to develop educational programs that enhance civility, character, and citizenship in Greater Lafayette. For the 2006-07 school year, the Manners Are Fun Program will be offered to all of the schools, both public and private, in Tippecanoe County (31 schools and approximately 2000 students).

The program introduces first graders to everyday manners with an approach that is engaging, informative, and fun! Students spend a morning at Duncan Community Hall where the beautiful architecture and ambience of the building provide the perfect setting. They participate in three activity groups where they learn basic skills and acquire knowledge in setting the table, table manners, and meeting and greeting people. Afterwards, they practice what they’ve learned by eating a snack using china and silverware on linen-covered tables. They sing a fun song on manners, and then return to school, excited and enthusiastic about using good manners.


In 2001, members of the Thomas Duncan Community Hall Board wanted to offer particular kinds of educational programs to the Lafayette community. Concerned about the increasingly rude and disrespectful world that we live in, they thought programs that promote good character traits, good manners, and better citizenship could make a difference, especially with children.


The result was the Sarah Duncan Education Council, a not-for-profit 501(c) (3) corporation. Established in 2002, its purpose was "to assist in the development and implementation of education programs that enhance the civility, character, and citizenship in Greater Lafayette." The SDEC was a separate entity from Duncan Community Hall, but it presented most of its programs there. In many ways, the SDEC was complementing the original purposes of Duncan Community Hall which through its history, stands as a monument to good citizenship. 

In 2005, the Thomas Duncan Community Hall and the Sarah Duncan Education Council were merged into a single corporation called the Thomas Duncan Hall, Inc.


The name Sarah Duncan was chosen because Sarah was the beloved wife of Thomas Duncan, Duncan Community Hall’s great benefactor. It was largely due to her influence that Mr. Duncan left money at his death in 1928 for constructing the lovely Georgian style building known as Duncan Community Hall. Sarah was a life-long resident of Lafayette, a Duncan Community Hall Board member, and promoter of many good causes.


The first program to be sponsored by the SDEC was an everyday manners program for first graders, entitled MANNERS ARE FUN! During the 2002-2003 school year, the program was offered to all the public and private schools in Tippecanoe County. 25 schools and over 1400 students participated.


Charter members of the Sarah Duncan Education Council were Mary Ann Combs, Marilynn Dammon, William Gettings, Jr., Robert Hockema, Charles Horner, David Poelstra, and David Williams.

Some Comments about the Program

“The parents, teachers, and students were thrilled by this program! So much learning and fun took place.”
- Anne Marshall, First Grade Teacher, Mayflower Mill Elementary School

“I can honestly say that the manners presentation at Duncan Hall has been one of the most exciting and rewarding projects and experiences in my thirty-two years of teaching! How successful it was!”
- Marcia Weber, First Grade Teacher, Glen Acres Elementary School

“Thank you for teaching me how to set the table. I learned how much manners matter.”
- Emmalie Hodge, First Grader, Durgan Elementary School

“I think the kids thought manners were dull and boring, but after the program, they found out they can be fun too.”
- Laura Nelson, parent, Burnett Creek Elementary School