Every two minutes, contestants in The Amazing Shake Competition entered a new room in the Redwood Conference Center to be presented with a speaking challenge. In Conference Room E, a nicely dressed young woman with a clipboard greeted each new contestant explaining that she was the wedding planner. “Our maid of honor had a little too much milkshake to drink and she’s not feeling well,” she said. “I need you to make a wedding toast to the bride and groom,” she added, handing the contestant a glass of milk and motioning them to approach the happy couple. Sitting 10 feet away at a table decorated with china, flowers, and a candle sat the bride and groom in full wedding attire.
Contestants had two minutes to make an appropriate toast before rotating to another room with another scenario. The challenge, known as the Gauntlet, was comprised of seven more industry and real-life scenarios, including making a disgruntled customer happy, conducting a job interview, attending your own birthday party and receiving a gift from strangers, giving an inspirational locker room speech, and conducting a red carpet interview.
The Gauntlet was one of four segments in The Amazing Shake Competition, which was piloted this year in Tulare County by middle school students at Sundale Union School and Central Valley Christian School. The Amazing Shake is a national competition that places an emphasis on teaching students manners, discipline, respect, and professional conduct. Students learn the nuances of professional human interaction as they are taught skills such as how to give a proper handshake, how to “work a room,” how to give a successful interview, and how to remain composed under pressure. The focus of The Amazing Shake is to develop employability and life skills in students.
Prior to the Gauntlet, all students participated in Industry Interviews with six industry partners. The school’s 40 top-scoring students advanced to the Gauntlet challenge. Following the Gauntlet, each school sent its top 20 students to compete in teams of four in a Shark Tank-style presentation on the development of an innovative new middle school before the secretary of education. The final portion of the competition was a presidential-style debate with the top two students from each school competing.
Sundale Union and Central Valley Christian partnered with the Tulare County Office of Education College and Career Program to bring additional industry partners to the competition. “To watch these middle school students perform at such a high level was rewarding to both the school staff and the industry partners that participated,” said Joy Soares, College and Career director. “The complexity of the events and the challenges posed was a much needed skill-building opportunity for these young people.”