By GRAYSON LEE MAXWELL
Rutherford County Schools
Two students from Rutherford County have been named champions in this year’s Amazing Shake competition.
The Amazing Shake is a Ron Clark Academy invention which aims to teach students professional skills, introduce them to local community leaders and conduct themselves in a professional setting.
While snow delayed the initial competition dates, the Chamber of Commerce’s Rutherford Works program partnered with RCS to host 18 students and those students represented 10 schools across the district.
“During the Amazing Shake, students learn and develop professional qualities — from the mechanics of a proper handshake to how to ‘work the room’ — so that they are able to present themselves exceptionally well for opportunities today and in the future,” according to theamazingshake.com.
Mack Tuggle (Homer Pittard Campus School – fifth grade) and Trinitee Moorman (Thurman Francis Arts Academy – eighth grade) were chosen as the overall winners of the competition.
“Honestly anyone could have won here because everybody did so great,” Tuggle said.
Luke Macleod (Rocky Fork Middle – seventh grade) and Brigham McCLaran (Eagleville School – fifth grade) were both finalists in the competition who represented their respective schools.
“I started about two months ago,” McClaran said about preparing for the county competition. “It was only fifth grade for each group. We went to the auxiliary gym and there’s tons of people waiting. You had to concentrate and go around the room and talk to every single person. They scored your conversation with them.”
“I’m getting a lot out of this,” Macleod said. “It’s going to look good on a college application form, but also it’s just a lot of social skills.”
Lexi Peacher and Leedie Vega both represented Rock Fork Elementary at the competition.
“It’s a good head start,” Vega said. “Whenever you apply to a real job, you’re helping with your communication skills. Sometimes talking to new people is easy, and sometimes you get nervous. The most important thing is to have as much confidence as you can.”
“Be yourself,” Peacher added.
Throughout the day students practiced skills in networking, improvising conversations and even attended a professional business luncheon.
Amy Baltimore is Rutherford County School’s K-5 school counseling supervisor who judged students during “The Gauntlet” — a segment of the competition in which students act out a scenario and are scored on their first impression, confidence, verbal skills and conversation ability.
“Those extroverted skills: being able to network, think on the spot and process; students are exposed to these skills they need to be successful in whatever personal goal they have in their life,” Baltimore said. “This group really is the cream of the crop. They have passion and have gone through the gauntlet at their own schools and have risen to the top. They’re amazing.”
Tuggle and Moorman will move on to the three-day national competition, which will be held in Atlanta in March.
As for advice for next year’s competition, Amazing Shake champion Moorman offers her advice:
“I think just getting over the initial fear of speaking in front of people has definitely helped,” She said. “Just make sure you have good eye contact and stay calm.
Practice your handshake.”