MATTAWA — Four Wahluke School District students had an opportunity to showcase their skills at The National Amazing Shake held in Atlanta, Ga. Those students were 6th graders Alexandria Hyndman, Madi Harlow, Kacey Hirai, and Abraham Gonzalez, 8th grade.
The Amazing Shake, sponsored by the Ron Clark Academy, is a competition that emphasizes teaching student’s professional conduct, manners, respect and discipline through a series of real-world situational exercises.
To compete, students are first taught professional human interaction skills such as how to remain composed under pressure, how to give a proper handshake, successful interview strategies, creative thinking, networking and problem-solving to name a few. During competition, they are scored on a rubric, with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest score.
To kick off the Shake, student’s grades 5th-8th were first tested in the classroom round, where they competed in situational exercises within their own classrooms. From that, 30 students from each grade level were chosen to move on to the next round. For the second round, members of the community, school employees and business owners were invited to converse with the students, giving each student scores depending on how well they were able to work the room and converse. From that round, 15 advanced.
In total, four rounds were held within the Wahluke School District, narrowing it down to the top eight students who went on to compete at the Tri Cities final round. And from Tri Cities, the top four Wahluke students were chosen to participate at the National Shake.
“I have lots of fun doing it,” said Harlow. This was her second competing in the event. Harlow explained she continues to participate because she is able to apply the skills she learns into her daily life.
The overall competition, Hirai said, took about a month to complete. To prepare for the national competition, the students had one week to plan and practice their skills. While they were able to practice their skills, they did not rehearse them Hirai explained, because a requirement of the competition restricted students being forewarned as to what the situational exercises would be.
“You have to think of it as real life, not a competition,” Hirai said.
For Hirai, he has especially enjoyed sports. So he started competing in the Shake to learn how to come out of his shell and to meet new people. He too has been competing for two years now, and hopes to do so again next year.
“I like to challenge myself,” said Gonzalez, who also continues to compete because of the confidence he’s gained and the ability to demonstrate who he is.
For Hyndman, she continues to take part in the Amazing Shake because she enjoys getting to learn new things she can use in her daily life.
LeeAnn Neary with the Wahluke School District said the district has participated in the Amazing Shake for two years, and expects to continue holding it for years to come. Neary has helped with the competition and also traveled with the students to Atlanta. She hopes to see students continue to learn and grow in their life skills, as well as learn how to celebrate others successes.
“We hope to instill in our kids how to be happy for others,” Neary said.