RDC competes in 3rd annual Amazing Shake competition

Published 6:56 pm Monday, January 31, 2022

Robert D. Campbell Jr. High School hosted its third annual Amazing Shake competition this week, a contest that places an emphasis on teaching student’s manners, discipline, respect and professional conduct.

“There’s not a lot of advice I can give because you’re all so exceptional — you really did a great job today. Your parents should be really proud of you,” said Superintendent Molly McComas who was one of the competition’s judges, many of whom came from the community.

Through the Amazing Shake, a competition originally created by the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia, students are introduced to the nuances of professional human interaction as they are taught various skills such as how to give a proper handshake, how to provide high-quality answers in interviews, and how to remain composed under pressure. At the end of the contest, the school aims to prepare their students to present themselves exceptionally well for opportunities today as well as those that will come in the future.

“We are in our third year of implementing the Amazing Shake program at RDC. Our students continue to amaze us with their professional skills and ability to adapt to a variety of situations. Participants performed exceptionally well in a variety of situations such as giving sales’ pitches, providing feedback in performances, and participating in corporate interviews. We couldn’t be more proud of them,” said Amber Murphy, a key organizer of the event and 7th grade Social Studies teacher extraordinaire.

At RDC, nearly 80 students experienced numerous tests and challenges as they interacted with community professionals from local businesses in “The Gauntlet,” a creative course consisting of approximately 20 stations. At each station, students had 60 seconds to provide their best display of professional tact with the hope of earning respectable scores from the community judges.

After the conclusion of the Gauntlet, the top 50 students will move onto subsequent rounds, which include “working the room” with executives, engaging in round-robin style speed questioning, and delivering speeches in a tense setting.

As Superintendent, also longtime administrator and former high school math teacher, McComas is quite knowledgeable about how to interact with others, perhaps the gold standard as role models go.

“Think about how you transition out of a conversation so it doesn’t look like you are ending abruptly and walking away,” McComas advised. “Another thing, several of you did a really nice job at introduction — ‘hi, how are you. I’m the superintendent. You then tell me your name’ — then we talk and I hear about your hobbies. As we are talking, you asked me new questions and we got connected. ‘I live on a farm’ — somebody else lives on a farm.’ Or I say, ‘I was a math teacher’ — you say you are interested in math. These facts are part of a conversational exchange and not just answering questions as if you are being interviewed. Talking to people — it’s nice — you had really good engagement.”

After undergoing several rounds with each requiring their own level of critical thinking, the top three students of the RDC Amazing Shake Competition will be named. These students will go on to compete against the top performers from across the world in the Ron Clark Academy’s Amazing Shake National Competition in March in Atlanta Georgia.

Here’s a few nuggets from McComas that deserve a bit of ink, even if they don’t flow into the traditional story narrative.

“Trying new things — that’s how you can find new hobbies, perhaps things that turn into passions that may eventually lead you to what you want to do with your future career. If you just have a job, you’re not really going to be fulfilled no matter what you do — you need to find something that you are passionate about,” she said.

McComas offered these wise words of advice too.

“If you want to tell your parents something — and you don’t really want to have ‘defined’ time with them at the house — go on a car ride,” she said.

Side note, Winchester Sun is interested in serving as a judge next year.