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The Walter Times

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The Walter Times

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The Amazing Shake

Blake Vasek
When the winner of the Amazing Shake was announced, confetti cannons went off.

My favorite thing about The Amazing Shake was meeting new people, because you never know what these people can or will do for you further down the road,” said Cole Crown, sixth grade. The Amazing Shake, an event that combines social skills, leadership capabilities, and the art of effective communication, unfolds as a transformative experience for participants. The journey begins with the Gauntlet, a rigorous series of 17 stations on day one, challenging scholars with various social scenarios. This immersive exercise sets the stage, pushing individuals to navigate through intricate situations that demand adaptability and quick thinking. 

Amazing Shake television interview practice. (Brenda Greaver)

Later that day, the scholars engage in a debate workshop featuring Deputy Mayor Matt Morgan as a special guest. This dynamic session not only refines their argumentative skills but also exposes them to real-world insights from a distinguished figure. It’s a blend of theoretical knowledge and practical application, fostering a deeper understanding of the power of persuasive communication. 


As day one draws to a close, the Top 40 scholars, having showcased their abilities throughout the gauntlet and debate workshop, face another hurdle. Each scholar responds to an interview question within a challenging 45-second time frame. The pressure is on, and this rapid-fire round separates the cream of the crop. “I enjoyed interacting with people and using my social skills in different scenarios,” said Nahla Foster, fifth grade. The Top 24 scholars emerge triumphant, earning the ticket to progress to day two. The advancing scholars were Alina Edgerly, Ella Russell, Taylor Thomas, Caleb Pagan, Gabriella Rosado, Hudson Hernandez, Cadence Payne, Josephine Santoro, Piper Zapp, Luca Fix, Nathan Huckabee, eighth grade, Miley Drake, Deborah Waisanen, Reagan Kendall, Tyson Rice, Sofia Koulianos, Mikael Fernandez, Giia Alvarez, Evangeline Dudley, Leila Torres, Giavanna Faiello, seventh grade, and Cole Crown, Lawton Hernandez, Caleb Small, sixth grade. 

Amazing Shake-contestants met with business leaders for interviews. (Blake Vasek)

Day two ushers in new challenges, starting with the Circle of Doom—a series of judges firing questions at the scholars. This exercise tests not only their knowledge but also their composure under scrutiny. The Work-A-Room challenge follows, requiring scholars to interview judges about their careers and professions. This multifaceted approach provides a holistic evaluation of the participants, showcasing their inquisitiveness and interpersonal skills. 


After these challenges, the scholars engage in a spirited debate, further refining their ability to articulate and defend their viewpoints. The stakes escalate as the Top 8 scholars are chosen based on their performance throughout the various challenges. “I really enjoyed the experience, talking to people and being able to go far in the competition,” said Reagan Kendall, seventh grade. The Top 8 scholars were Cadence Payne, Hudson Hernandez, Piper Zapp, Nathan Huckabee, eighth grade, and Reagan Kendall, Leila Torres, Deborah Waisanen, and Miley Drake, seventh grade. This select group moves forward to face another round of handshakes and interviews, culminating in the crucial moment when scores are tallied, revealing the Top 5 scholars. The Top 5 scholars were Nathan Huckabee, Piper Zapp, Hudson Hernandez, eighth grade, and Miley Drake, Deborah Waisanen, seventh grade.


The journey doesn’t end there. The Top 5 scholars earn the prestigious opportunity to participate in the Global Amazing Shake at Ron Clark Academy. Day three adds a unique twist as the Top 5 scholars share an off-campus lunch with James Sang Lee, who is a four-time World Martial Arts Champion and a Hollywood stuntman. He has done stunts for movies, such as Plane and Kyoto. This informal setting allows for one-on-one interviews and a self-defense lesson, creating a platform for personal connections and unexpected revelations. “I really liked interacting with different people I didn’t know and making strong relationships and connections,” said Hudson Hernandez, eighth grade.

Amazing Shake-practicing martial arts. (Blake Vasek)

Scores are once again calculated, and the competition reaches its pinnacle as the third, second, and first-place winners are unveiled. This year, the third place was awarded to Nathan Huckabee, eighth grade, second went to Hudson Hernadez, eighth grade, and first place was taken by Deborah Waisanen, seventh grade. These award-winning individuals not only demonstrate exceptional social skills but also prove their ability to thrive in diverse scenarios. “I really liked the experience and using my social skills while competing; I also very enjoyed being able to win,” said Deborah Waisanen, seventh grade. Beyond the winners, several other scholars receive recognition and awards for their outstanding performances in the Amazing Shake competition. Some of the awards include Million Dollar Smile, awarded to Cole Crown, sixth grade, Best Handshake, Joshua Willis, fifth grade, Best First Impression, Paisley Reyes, sixth grade; and Best Rookie, Nahla Foster, fifth grade, to name a few.

Amazing Shake-Contestants were tasked with ordering food and having conversations throughout the meal. (Blake Vasek)

The roots of the Amazing Shake competition trace back to the innovative approach of Ron Clark Academy. Known for its commitment to fostering holistic development in students, the academy designed this competition to go beyond traditional academic assessments. It was conceived as a platform to nurture essential life skills – communication, leadership, and adaptability. 

Amazing Shake-Scholars did a breaking news cast. (Brenda Greaver)

In essence, the Amazing Shake is a testament to the belief that education extends beyond textbooks and classrooms. It emphasizes the significance of equipping students with the tools needed to navigate the complexities of the real world. Ron Clark Academy’s visionary initiative has not only transformed the educational landscape but has also become a beacon inspiring similar programs worldwide. 


The Amazing Shake is more than just a competition; it’s a transformative journey that challenges scholars to step out of their comfort zones, honing skills that are indispensable in today’s interconnected world. As participants ascend through the stages of the Gauntlet, debate workshops, interviews, and various challenges, they emerge not only as winners but as well-rounded individuals ready to make their mark on the global stage.

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