By Morgan Bryce
Sixth grader Sara Kate Speakman was the winner of the annual “Amazing Shake” competition for Opelika City Schools on Monday.
She and runner-up Zavier Dowdell emerged as the two finalists out of an original field that consisted of 371 participants. Each day last week, contestants met with judges who were evaluating the student’s conversation and personal interaction skills, cordiality, manners and knowledge of current events.
“We practice soft skills (hand shake, eye contact, posture, conversational skills etc) throughout the year. These skills come in handy throughout life. Several of the judges mentioned how well prepared our students already are for job interviews,” said Opelika Middle School Teacher Patricia Skelton, who organizes the event each year.
By Friday, Speakman and Dowdell were selected as the two finalists and traveled to City Hall to participate in an interview with the three judges who make up the Vision Board.
Speakman was announced as the winner of the contest Monday during Awards Day festivities.
“The students who made it to each round were able to communicate their thoughts clearly and with purpose. They all had to be aware of current events and be able to express their thoughts on the spot. They all also had to engage in conversation with adults,” Skelton said. “(Speakman and Dowdell) exuded confidence and charisma while being humble and having grace under pressure.”
The idea behind the “Amazing Shake” competition originated at The Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, which focuses on social etiquette: handshake, eye contact, ability to carry on a conversation and level of engagement among its participants.
For more information, visit www.ronclarkacademy.com.