Swanton Middle School seventh grade students put on display Tuesday the skills they have learned as part of the Swanton 7 initiative.
With the help of staff and community members, they participated in the school’s first Amazing Shake Competition, which focuses on building soft skills. A strong emphasis was placed on manners, discipline, respect, and professional behavior.
The event went fantastically, according to Principal Matt Smith.
“It went better than I could have ever imagined,” he said. “I don’t think I slept the night before, and I know (Assistant Principal Leigh) Pancoast and the seventh grade team were the same way.”
He added that the community members who stepped up as judges were amazing with the students, and the students blew away the expectations of school leaders.
“They were nervous but overcame their jitters quickly and were phenomenal. You could tell some of them had been preparing and practicing on their own, which was great to see,” said Smith. “They were dressed up nice and really presented themselves to the community in a positive light.”
Students went through the Gauntlet, which had seven stations that put their abilities to the test. They had to show poise and confidence in personal interactions, as well as exhibit effective management skills.
“The students carried themselves with such poise and professionalism when they were interacting. It was so great to see,” Smith said. “When a group would finish you could see most of the students walk out with a big smile on their face and you could just see the pride they had for what they just did.”
Swanton Village Administrator Rosanna Hoelzle, who was part of the “Know Your News” station, said the Gauntlet was intense but she could tell students were well-prepared. At her station, there were photographs of influential individuals students had to name.
“Many students were quick to respond with their answers. There were some students who were nervous but still tried very hard,” she said. “It was important to stress to each student, with honesty, on how they did, as this will help them self-assess their performance. Overall, I could tell most students are working hard on these soft skills which will help them in their future endeavors.”
Other stations tested students’ communication skills, ability to place a dinner order, dining etiquette, knowledge of world events, bed making, and the ability to dress professionally and present themselves in a positive light.
Smith met with the seventh grade students after the guests had left. “I expressed how proud I was of them and how all these people across Fulton County just walked away saying how great you are, and they are going to tell their friends, family, and co-workers about how amazing the students are here, and what a great school we have.”
School officials expressed thanks to the Fulton County Economic Development Corporation, led by Matt Gilroy and Kelly Carey, for helping to find over 50 judges for the event.
“We had numerous staff members that helped out to make it happen. The seventh grade team had the students prepared and ready to go,” said Smith. “Swanton Middle School teachers Kaye Batanian, Jodie Rominski, and Assistant Principal Leigh Pancoast really went above and beyond on this project and made it truly amazing.”
The top 21 students move on to the second round of the competition in April. There will be a total of four rounds, which will get more intense until a winner is crowned in May.
“The winner is going to get a nice trophy, house points, gift card, and throw the first pitch out at a Mud Hens game in front of their entire class,” said Smith. “We hope to also raise some money to send the winner on to the national competition in Atlanta, Georgia next year.”
Reach Drew Stambaugh at 419-335-2010 or on Twitter @Swan_Enterprise