Many years ago children were thought to need to learn more than academics at school. Boys were taught survival skills and girls were taught to be ladies. While more than academics are taught at schools now, much of the etiquette has been lost. Teachers are now teaching street survival skills about sex, drugs, and more.
However, Columbia, Tennessee is one of the few places where a girl can still learn to be a proper lady.
For one week during the summer, girls ages 14 through 18 can attend a Southern Belle school for girls.
The school takes the girls back to 1861. It teaches them all of the trades that girls of that period needed to know.
These skills include ballroom dancing, needlework, penmanship, proper etiquette, hairstyling, Latin, and mourning customs.
While attending school at the Athenaeum, the girls live with area family hosts who open their homes to the students. While staying at the hosts’ homes, the girls must follow all of the customs of the girls in 1861. They curtsey their elders and use social graces. They must also wear the proper attire of gowns. Some of the girls make their own gowns while others purchase them from the Internet and costume stores. Most of the girls can be seen in hoop skirts.
Each year the girls look forward to attending the front lawn tea on Thursday and the commencement ceremony and ball on Friday.
In 2006, the girls came from as far as Germany and Canada to attend the one week school. This year’s roaster includes 21 girls from as far as New Hampshire and New Jersey.
The tuition for attending the school is $700 for the one week in July.
Girls ages 19 and older can attend a shorter two day version of the school during May.