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HSS Students Develop Lifelong Skills Through Amazing Shake Experience

Dec. 9, 2019

Please scroll down to see a photo gallery of this event.  

“To me, life is about experiences, the ones you make for yourself and the ones you make for others.”  
— Ron Clark, author of “The Essential 55”

Fifth-grade students at Harrison Street Elementary School just had an experience they may never forget.

What started in the classroom, included a limo ride to City Hall, and ended with encouraging cheers from peers and family members, has resulted in an opportunity to develop lifelong skills of communication, collaboration, and citizenship. 

Supported each step of the way by their fifth-grade teachers Ms. Napravnik, Ms. Dailey and Ms. Robbins and Principal Westerhoff, all 76 fifth-grade students at Harrison participated in The Amazing Shake — a competition based on Ron Clark’s nationally recognized competition that places an emphasis on discipline, respect, and professional conduct.  

Beginning with the District Vision

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“Our unit began with an essential question: ‘What does it take to meet my goals?’” according to Napravnik. “After our (teacher professional development) experience at The Ron Clark Academy, we hoped that by holding students to high expectations, they would be able to live out our District Vision through this experience.”

What came next, according to Napravnik, was an unexpected community reaction that also aligned with the District Vision.

“We were blown away by the amount of support and collaboration from community members, business owners, board members, central office leaders, Harrison staff, parents, and students. As our principal, Brenna Westerhoff, stated at our awards ceremony: ‘In a gentle way, you can shake the world. (-Gandhi)’. We hope that the skills the students learned through this experience have gently shaken the Geneva community and will serve them as they strive for their goals.”

Clark’s book, “The Essential 55” includes 55 educator’s “rules” for discovering the successful student in every child. Harrison’s fifth-grade team decided to focus on 20 of those rules for their students, which they included in the curriculum in the weeks and months leading up to the competition. 

Prior to the competition, students learned the nuances of professional human interaction as they were taught skills such as how to give a proper handshake, how to make small talk, basic interview skills, and how to make an engaging one-minute elevator speech. 

“The goal is to prepare our students so that they are able to represent themselves exceptionally well for opportunities today as well as those that will come in the future,” Napravnik said.  

The Amazing Shake

The Amazing Shake competition consisted of three rounds:

Round 1: All fifth-graders participated in 10 case-scenario situations in the HSS cafeteria: small talk, broadcasting the news, ordering food from a menu, identifying what flatware is used in formal dining, accepting an award and giving a thank-you speech, scheduling a doctor appointment, selling a product for an infomercial, answering a difficult question, and eating etiquette. Several Geneva business owners volunteered for the scenario stations and served as judges. 

Round 2: The top 30 students from Round 1 participated in a mock scholarship interview at the District’s Central Office. This consisted of typical interview questions with 7 administrators, including Superintendent Dr. Kent Mutchler. 

Round 3: The top 10 students from Round 2 were escorted to and from City Hall in a limousine, where they recited for the Mayor and his staff short speeches that they had prepared on what they love about the City of Geneva.

On the fourth day of the Amazing Shake, all participating students were recognized for their achievements. Volunteer judges and families were invited back to the school for a ceremony in which all fifth-graders received class T-shirts with the logo “Fifth Grade Rules.” The top 30 students received recognition for their efforts, the 10 finalists received small trophys and certificates, and the winning student received a gift card. 

When asked what he liked most about the Amazing Shake, the winner of the competition Camden said:

“I loved the experience of going to City Hall and Central Office, and that we had to dress nicely. In those times I felt so grown up.” 

In a manner that also reflects the District’s Vision, Camden showed gratitude for his peers and supporters: 

“What I also liked was how respectful and thoughtful everyone was, like Mayor Burns and Dr. Mutchler, for taking the time out their days just for us. Also, the fifth-grade teachers for putting forth hard work and effort.”

Lessons and Growth

Fifth Grade Rules LogoWhile the win-and-loss scenario that the competition created was new for many, the teachers emphasized growth as the key takeaway, according to Ms. Dailey.

“As Ron Clark says: ‘Rule 52: Accept that you are going to make mistakes. Learn from them and move on.’ We tried to encourage good sportsmanship, humility, uplifting others, and staying positive,” Dailey said.

Teachers prepared students for both success and loss, focusing on the value of supporting one another.

“We had them write a self-reflection on their actions should their name be called or not to advance to the next round of competition,” Dailey said. “Ultimately, we have the parents and students to thank for supporting one another throughout the process and hearing our message of growth.”

According to Ms. Robbins, many students gained confidence in this challenge and learned how to accept failure. One student in particular, who at first struggled at not having advanced beyond Round 1, experienced the lesson that failures are really an opportunity for growth. Before the end of the week, this student gave a warm sendoff to a classmate before the final round.

“Ron Clark really emphasizes the idea that classmates are family,” Robbins said. “This student embraced and demonstrated this message in the end.”

Thanks for Support

Harrison Street School students and staff would like to thank the following judges and participants:

Round 1:

Round 1 Amazing Shake Judges 

Cathy Campana, Volunteer

Larry Cabeen, Board Member

Taylor Egan, Board Vice President

Susi & Rob Brucato, Scentcerely Yours

Mike Bomberger & Karen Fitzgerald, BG Hospitality Group

Cassie Blicken, Valley Education for Employment System

Deb Bisceglie, Lelianee Depaz and Dana Stone, MySalon

Lori Bingham, Graham’s Dine Chocolates & Ice Cream

Lexy Jones, Geneva Public Library District

Rod Johnson, Geneva Fire Department

Mike Frieders, Geneva Police Department

Jane Fitch, Volunteer

Ryan Deniz, Partner in Health

Renee Schroeder, Smith and Richardson

Shari Ralish, Peaceful Parlour

Roxanne Osborne, Harvey’s Tales Bookshop

Bernie Laskowski, Craft Urban

Katie Kennath, Volunteer

Macy Keenan, GIA MIA

Round 2:

Round 2 Judges 

Superintendent Dr. Kent Mutchler

Assistant Superintendent for Learning & Teaching Dr. Andrew Barrett

Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Dr. Adam Law

Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Dr. Dean Romano

Director of Student Services Anne Giarrante

Director of Learning & Teaching Shonette Sims

Director of Technology Mike Wilkes

Assistant Director of Student Services Jamie Benavides

Round 3:

Round 3 Judges 

City of Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns

City of Geneva Communications Coordinator Kevin Stahr

Jill Johnson, Chairman, Strategic Plan Advisory Committee

Jeff's Razorback Transit Inc. for providing a very special limo ride for our students to City Hall 

Additional thanks to Jeff's Razorback Transit Inc. for providing a very special limo ride for our students to City Hall. 

Please scroll down to see a photo gallery from this event.

*Fifth Grade Rules logo design by Safe-Di Awards Co

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