Adults, Fifth-Graders Match Wits
BY FAYE M. DASEN
Twelve local community leaders discovered Thursday night that Moore County fifth-graders have some smarts.
The Public Education Foundation of Moore County hosted its first "Are You Smarter Than a Moore County Schools' 5th Grader?" competition in Owens Auditorium at Sandhills Community College.
Andrew Lyons, president of the Foundation's board of directors, explained how the organization benefits the schools.
"With a grant from the Foundation, 60 elementary school student council members were able to participate in a leadership summit," he said. "And if you were lucky enough to see the recent concert by Eric Whitacre at Pinecrest, that was due, in part, to a grant from the Foundation."
Lyons introduced Patrick Coughlin, president and CEO of the Moore County Chamber of Commerce, who acted as master of ceremonies for the show.
Thirty-six fifth-grade students from all 12 Moore County public elementary schools were divided into teams and paired with two celebrity contestants in a challenge based on the poplar television show hosted by Jeff Foxworthy.
Topics included math, history, language arts and science. Questions were at the third-, fourth- and fifth-grade levels and were multiple choice. Students were given 30 seconds to write down their answers, then the celebrities had to decide whether to peek, copy, pass or go half (picking from the answers of three of the students).
The contest was divided into two halves, with three teams competing against each other. The winning teams from each half competed for the grand championship.
Leading off the first half were Tracy Metcalf, 2011 Moore County Teacher of the Year, and Jim Dodson, editor of PineStraw, with their team, Nelson Womack, Devon Dunn and John Kyle Coniglio, of Southern Pines Elementary; and Colby Mashburn, Kyle Waycaster and Nathaniel Lockamy, of Vass-Lakeview Elementary.
They got the correct answers on their first two questions, but Dodson and Metcalf faltered on the science question, "Which is responsible for the decomposition of dead plants and animals?"
Next up were Audrey Moriarty, executive director of Given Memorial Library and Tufts Archives, and Eric Corbett, owner of Chick-fil-A, in Southern Pines. They were paired with Charles Sewell, Hannah Almquist and Ryan Ayers, of Pinehurst Elementary School; and Raymond Tomczak, Dakota Cameron and Gregory Van Steen, of Cameron Elementary. Answering all three questions correctly, they jumped into the lead.
Rounding out the teams in the first half were Baxter Clement, musician and owner of Sandhills School of the Performing Arts, and Carolyn Helms, children's minister of First Baptist Church, Southern Pines, along with students Carlos Garcia, Jesse Villar and Nadia Brower, of Robbins Elementary; and Emory Bradley, Maia Kantorowski and Tristan Paller.
They got their science and math questions right, but struggled over a language arts question about prepositional phrases, putting them in a tie with the Dodson-Metcalf team.
A lightning round offered an opportunity for those teams to make a run, but the Moriarty-Corbett team advanced to the championship.
During the short break, Kensley Leonard, Miss Greater Sandhills, talked with members of the audience about her community service platform on cyberbullying. She plans on visiting all of the fifth-grade classes over the next several months to talk directly with students about the issue.
The second half kicked off with Chris Metzer, head football coach at Pinecrest High School, and Dick Higginbotham, senior executive vice president and CFO of Pinehurst Resort, taking the stage with their teams, Jonathan Martin, Katherine Denning and Zaquan Shields, of Carthage Elementary; and Gabriel Roth, Alexa Castro-Giovanni, and Dillon Ratkowski, of West End Elementary.
The team missed a science question about the softest mineral on earth, but answered their other two questions correctly.
Next up were Aberdeen Elementary students Cheyenne Williams, Emma Colasacco and Joey Cimadamore, along with Highfalls Elementary students Jonah Chriscoe, Sarah Paschal and Walker Godfrey, who were teamed with Caroline Eddy, executive director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Sandhills, and Dr. Larry Upchurch, retired deputy superintendent, Moore County Schools.
The team scored correctly on its math question, but failed to get the right answers on history and language arts questions.
The final team of the evening, headed up by Dr. John Dempsey, president of Sandhills Community College, and Marianne Kernan, president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Moore County, included students Alondra Vargas, Lilian DeView and Preston Greene, from Westmoore Elementary; and Adria Squires, Cameron McCutchen and Ellie Saunders, from Sandhills Farm Life.
They answered all three of their questions correctly.
After the lighting round, the Dempsey-Kernan team advanced to the championship against the team headed up by Moriarty and Corbett.
In the head-to-head competition, the celebrities and students were allowed to confer on the answers. After both teams answered the first three questions correctly, missed a grammar question on the fourth and correctly answered a fifth, there were no more multiple choice answers given.
The final question was: "Karen traveled two kilometers on her bike. How far did she travel in miles?" The correct answer of 1.25 miles was given by the Dempsey-Kernan team, which was declared grand champions, earning a pizza party from Mellow Mushroom for the entire fifth-grade class of the two schools.
A Spirit Award was given to the school raising the most funds in its birdhouse set up in the auditorium lobby. Pinehurst Elementary School took the honors.
"We felt really good about the turnout," said Susan Sanders, vice president and secretary of the Foundation board. "We worked hard at pairing the schools so that it felt like a real community event."
The event raised at least $22,000, which eventually goes back to the schools in the form of grants.
Contact Faye M. Dasen at email@example.com.
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