After multiple rounds, it came down to just four seventh grade students in the finale of the Amazing Shake competition at Swanton Middle School Friday. The competition focuses on building soft skills, with an emphasis placed on manners, discipline, respect, and professional behavior.
In the end, Sydney Ruiz, was declared the winner by a panel of judges. Sydney, who aims to attend Harvard University after graduating high school, will advance to the national competition in Atlanta, Georgia.
“I’d like to especially thank the staff here at SMS,” said Sydney. “They have been incredibly supportive and generous and without them this wouldn’t be possible.”
She also thanked businesses that participated and recognized the entire seventh grade class at Swanton Middle School.
“You guys came and you participated in the gauntlet, even though all of you were scared and nervous,” she said. “And that just shows how incredibly brave all of you are. And I am so proud to say that I share classrooms with such amazing people.”
She offered words of advice to sixth grade students who will participate in the Amazing Shake next school year.
“You’ll be scared, you’ll be nervous when you come into this competiiton, but once you realize these people aren’t here to judge you, that they’re here to help you grow as a person everything will become a piece of cake. You’ll realize that it’s not about winning but it’s about making sure you grow as a person,” Sydney said. “And as long as you take something away, none of us are going home empty handed. We are all winners.”
With the win, Ruiz will also have the honor of throwing out the first pitch at a Toledo Mud Hens game. In addition, it was announced Friday that the top 21 students in the Amazing Shake competition will be riding a gaming bus, courtesy of Team Johnson Limo Services, to the game.
Ruiz and the other finalists – Mika Levin, Kalila Shanly and Emma Crow – were first interviewed individually in a talk show format by WTOL Sports Director Jordan Strack. They then came on stage together for final questions.
The contestants were asked what qualities in the other contestests would make them a great choice as winner. The girls were all effusive in their praise for each other, creating a touching moment on stage.
Strack stressed the importance of the skills the students have learned through the Amazing Shake.
“The things that they’re doing here, you guys are learning through this competition, you’ll remember these things forever,” said Strack.
Smith said the competition hasn’t always been easy for the students, but it has been beneficial.
“There’s been tears, there’s been some nervousness, there’s been anxiety. And that’s OK,” he said. “That’s kind of what we wanted because that’s life and we need to prepare our students for those things.
“We want to keep these amazing kids here and keep growing this. Because we’ve got a lot of things going on at Swanton and we’re very proud of it. And we want to make sure we have the best workforce, the best community, and it starts with all these kids here in the crowd.”