Students lay it on the line in National Amazing Shake Competition


McKinley Beavers, left, and Kylie Friese, both seventh-graders at Cleveland High School pose during what may have been the only quiet moment during an otherwise pressure-packed weekend in Atlanta recently.

McKinley Beavers, left, and Kylie Friese, both seventh-graders at Cleveland High School pose during what may have been the only quiet moment during an otherwise pressure-packed weekend in Atlanta recently.

McKinley Beavers and Kylie Friese represented Blount County schools in the National Amazing Shake Competition at the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta in early February. More than 130 students participated in the competition where they were challenged to maintain both grace and poise under intense pressure throughout the three-day competition.

The point of the exercise: to be able to handle whatever comes – courteously, confidently, creatively, courageously, assertively, and professionally – now and in the future, when the stakes will only get greater. Here’s how it unfolded.

After an evening of practice rounds, students were given 40 minutes to progress through a series of 23 short but challenging situations: “working a room” full of adult professionals while presenting themselves confidently, asking provocative questions, and using strategic listening skills to focus the interaction. They were required to insert themselves adroitly into ongoing conversations between adults and other students in stressful situations. Among other things, they had to memorize a presentation for a TV commercial under deadline (less than a minute) pressure, and interact with an aggressive IT expert dressed improbably (or maybe appropriately?) as a clown, topped off by a session of strutting their stuff on a runway before a live audience.

While McKinley and Kylie didn’t make it to the final rounds, both said they experienced a great boost in their self-confidence and learned a great deal from the competition. Both were sponsored at the event by the Blount County Education Foundation.

Blount County Schools officials hope to collaborate with the Blount County Oneonta Chamber of Commerce and the Blount County Education Foundation to stage a Blount County Amazing Shake for this coming fall. Winners from that competition would move on to compete with the best-of-the-best again in Atlanta in 2019.