EW picks their top four heading to Amazing Shake national competition

Staff Writer Kate Wehlann

The Amazing Shake national competition doesn’t take place until April, but East Washington Middle School already knows who will represent them in Atlanta.

The school’s rounds of the competition narrowed a pool of students down to the top four on Thursday, Dec. 12: eighth graders Amaya White and Anakin McCormick and seventh graders Sydney Kaelin and Hayden Pendleton. Pendleton was in the top four last year and he will be returning to the competition.

Students throughout the school took part in a gauntlet of challenges with the help of local community volunteers.

Pendleton said he liked all of the challenges.

“I feel like my favorite one was something presidential,” he said. “There was a guy who was about to get ready for a presidential conference and his hair was all wacky and he had gloves on and a cape and stuff. You were trying to get him ready; you were the stylist. It was really fun because you would say, ‘OK, I’m going to do this to your hair,’ and he’d be like, ‘No, no! I want this!’”

Kaelin agreed.

“He refused to do what you wanted to do and he didn’t get that this would not help him be president,” she said. “He just wanted to wear the tea bags on his ears and the giant gloves and his hair was crazy.”

McCormick said he liked the cupcake station.

“This guy said he was this other guy’s friend, then he said he wasn’t privately to me,” he said. “He was trying to start another cupcake business, so he stole the other guy’s cupcake recipe and then it turned out the recipe was in your pocket and he framed you. It was really fun.”

Sheriff Brent Miller was the actor running the cupcake shop.

“I told them they needed therapy,” said McCormick.

White said her favorite competition was the phone-charging shoe (also sometimes a shoe-charging phone).

“I just disagreed with him the entire time,” she said. “You had to deal with these bad reviews of the product. He would come up with things to confuse us. It was fun, though.”

Fun, but exhausting. McCormick said he just went home and crashed after school that day. The other students agreed.

“I had play practice, but I convinced Mrs. [Veronica] Lindley to let me go home,” said Pendleton.

“Most of the kids I’ve seen today just look exhausted from yesterday,” said Principal Amber King this past Friday. “It was just the length of a regular school day.”

Pendleton said he wanted to repeat his experience from last year and get to go to Atlanta again, but wasn’t sure how well he would perform compared to the other students.

“Mrs. [Stephanie] Richardson said it was a really close call with the top 10, so I wasn’t sure,” he said. “I almost thought I didn’t make it in the top 10, because she called everyone’s name and then she called my name. Whew! … I wore my Ron Clark sweatshirt this week so I could make people intimidated.”

“Your speech was also unique,” said Kaelin. “A lot of people in the top 10 gave speeches, like planned speeches. They talked about their experience that day and thanked the judges, but he was different.”

“I talked about cereal,” said McCormick.

White said she remembers talking about how “we all have manners now and how we used to be. I remember I was in fifth grade and [King] brought us into the PAC and went over all the rules [the Musketeer Creed students must follow at school] and I was like, ‘Wow, school’s going to be great! This is going to change stuff!’ and then it did and now I’m in the top four.”

“We worked pretty hard on the manners thing and the kindness thing and the creed,” said King.

“It worked,” White replied.

She said she didn’t expect to make it to the speech portion of the competition.

“I didn’t prepare anything,” she said. “… I expected it to be like the first year I did it. They wouldn’t announce my name and I’d be, like, ‘OK,’ but they announced my name and I was like, ‘Whoa!’ I’m really good at talking.”

“I’m so excited!” said McCormick. “I want to go on a plane so bad!”

“I hope we get to go to Brazieros again,” said Pendleton. Thanks to an arrangement between Superintendent Dennis Stockdale and EMCOR, which worked on the HVAC project and the solar field with the school, students went to the Louisville Brazilian steakhouse and they had a business lunch.

“Once we find out who our top four are, I try to do several things to help prepare them for nationals,” said King. “Nationals are just a whole other level.”

“You think you’re prepared, but then you get down there and you realize you are prepared, but you should have prepared more,” said Pendleton.

“There are things with nationals you can prepare for, but there are so many things you have to do that you can’t prepare for by memory,” said King. “You just have to be able to do it. I try to put our top four in scenerios where they’ll have to work with people and talk with people … We also went to First Harrison Bank last year and toured their banks and spoke with the president of First Harrison. We went to GKN —”

“Zaxby’s,” added Pendleton. “We went to a lot of places. We went to the superintendant’s office a lot.”

Kaelin said she didn’t expect to make it as far as she did in the competition.

“I was really worried after the top 30 and the work the room challenge,” she said. “I only made it about nine people in and I went to one person twice because I forgot who I’d talked to. I couldn’t get a double score, so I just wasted time there. For the top four, it’s a combined score of everything you’d done. I was pretty confident about my speech and I think that was what did it.”

Her sister, Anna, was born with a congenital heart defect and that was the subject of Kaelin’s speech — the times she spent with her sister in the hospital and being grateful for when her family was together.

McCormick said he was hoping he would do well in the Amazing Shake challenge, but “part of me didn’t know,” he said. “I really don’t know. I got really scared, but I had confidence, I feel like. I was just myself and I’m so excited!”

Salem is still holding their Amazing Shake competition and West Washington will hold theirs after students return from winter break.


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