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Exceptional kids show off exceptional table manners in downtown Asheville

Exceptional children from Erwin Middle School took a field trip to put lessons about table manners to use at a downtown restaurant. They unloaded from a school bus on Thursday outside The Bier Garden. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

Exceptional children from Erwin Middle School took a field trip to put lessons about table manners to use at a downtown restaurant. They unloaded from a school bus on Thursday outside The Bier Garden.

"They're so excited," said teacher Sarah Friedman, knowing how hungry everyone was to show her how much they have learned.

"You will tell them how many are in your party and they will seat you, OK?" she told her students.

The Bier Garden treated them to lunch, and kids like Allyson knew just what to do.

"Put our napkins in our lap," said Allyson, ready to dive into a hamburger and fries.

"The first thing they're going to ask you for is your drink order," Friedman said, coaching the kids as they sat at the table.

To document their outing, News 13 laid a microphone on the table to capture the banter.

"I slept like a kitten last night," Landon Ingle said.

"I slept like a bat," his friend replied.

"You slept upside down?" another diner astutely responded.

But that natural exchange abruptly ended when they noticed the unnatural presence of the microphone sitting in front of them.

"Oh my God, no way! Look what they put," they exclaimed.

"It's blinking!" Landon said with a curious stare.

Beyond their hilarious small talk, this experience is big.

"Because we've been talking about life skills with them," Friedman said. "We were talking about manners, restaurant etiquette."

So, Friedman and fellow teacher April Davis made sure what they have learned has a place at the table.

"Be able to transfer the skills they've learned outside the classroom and into the real world," Davis added.

When it comes to the napkin, Landon knows when to "hold'em" and knows when to "fold'em."

"You have to ask one of the teachers politely if you can go to the bathroom," he explained. "You get up, put the napkin on your seat, and go use the bathroom."

"Landon's doing great," Davis said with a laugh.

Being with familiar people in an unfamiliar place doesn't have to be scary.

"They're really important to these guys, it helps them retain the skills that they've learned," Friedman said.

"It is a big opportunity to have lunch with my friends," said Andrew Gentry-Mace, one of the students along for lunch.

Maybe after awhile, they might even get used to the microphone on the table.

"Yeah, I just saw it blink," Andrew repeated.

"I didn't saw that coming," his friend exclaimed.

Being skeptical of monitoring devices might have been the unintended part of the lesson.

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