A Swanton Middle School graduate has placed eighth worldwide in The Global Amazing Shake Competition held by The Ron Clark Academy in Georgia.
Emma Crow, who will attend Swanton High School in the fall, was among about 244 middle school students from around the world to compete in the contest, which teaches students manners, discipline, respect, and professional conduct. Held May 18-22, the event used 60-second challenges, projects, and spirited conversations judged by corporate volunteers to test contestants’ professional skills.
Open to students in grades 5-8 during the 2019-20 school year, the annual competition attracted participants from the United States, Canada, and Honduras. The grand champion was Camila D., a seventh grade student at the Macris School in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
Emma Crow competed in the Swanton Middle School version of The Amazing Shake during seventh grade. The competition was brought to the school by Principal Matt Smith and Assistant Principal Leigh Pancoast, who visited The Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Ga.
Emma actually placed second to seventh grade student Sydney Ruiz in the SMS competition. However, their point totals were so close that both were approved for the global contest. Sydney did not proceed past the first global round.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused the Amazing Shake to be held online for the first time in its nine-year history. Normally, the event is held on-site at The Ron Clark Academy, where it was originally scheduled for April this year.
Over the first day of competition, Emma underwent “The Gauntlet,” 11 one-minute judged challenges that included delivering a monologue from the 2001 comedy “Legally Blonde,” answering a “Wheel of Fortune”- type question, and performing a faux news broadcast about Disney World. The second day included a group interview with contestants and producing a television commercial. The third day introduced a session of questions called “The Breakfast of Champions” and debate-type conversations with other contestants entitled “The Pressure Cauldron.”
In the end, Emma placed eighth in a final group of 20, of which seven received the top honors.
“It was difficult and it was different,” Emma said. “It was definitely harder than I think it would have been (on-site). There were definitely some curve balls here and there that I think definitely surprised me, but it was decent.”
She said remaining the true version of herself made it easier to progress in the competition. “I really just showed my personality and tried not to be someone I’m not, and I think that really helped,” she said.
And while Emma felt disappointed at not being able to travel to The Ron Clark Academy and engage with the students there, “I’m glad they did it virtually because I would rather have it that way than not at all.”
The online contest didn’t interfere in developing relationships with her worldwide counterparts during coaching meetings, Emma said.
“We were talking, we were laughing, having fun. I think I definitely made really good friendships,” she said. “After the competition I followed some of the contestants on social media. I think I definitely made some good bonds, even though it was over the computer. We compared cultures, and it definitely brought me more aware of what’s going on outside of where I live.”
Kyle Walcott, Ron Clark Academy development officer, said The Amazing Shake offers students a taste of networking, career paths, and preparation to present themselves professionally for present and future opportunities.
Walcott said Emma’s final standing in the competition is an impressive accomplishment. “(S)he thoroughly impressed RCA staff, student and alumni coaches, and judges,” he said. “As a result of her excellence in displaying the values and behaviors that define the Amazing Shake spirit, she was named as the recipient of the Most Spirited Award.”
The virtual environment of the competition this year did nothing to minimize it, he added.
“Although students could not physically interact with judges in-person, the advent of technology helped us create virtual backgrounds and settings that were a substantial replacement for in-person decoration,” Walcott said. “Also, our team worked together for weeks to produce thought-provoking questions and situations that mirror the same atmosphere that exists in our in-person Amazing Shake.”
Matt Smith, Emma’s middle school principal, said her accomplishments “shine a bright light on the middle school. She and Sydney are great ambassadors for the middle school, and we’re just proud.”
Emma said she came away from the experience realizing just how supportive the Swanton Middle School administrators and staff were. She also realized the importance of being herself.
“It really helped me advance, because the judges really got to see my personality and really got to know who I am,” she said.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.