Friday afternoon, the Sale Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization staged a quiz competition, inviting a group of city leaders to match wits against a panel of 15 honor roll students.
The event, modeled after the TV game show “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” is one of several the school and its PTO hold each year to recognize and encourage student achievement.
While the eight adults may not have answered the question posed in the game’s title, they acquitted themselves pretty well against the flawless performance of the fourth-and-fifth graders, all of whom have been honor roll students each year since first grade.
The adults missed just two questions.
“We did pretty well,” said Jabari Edwards, owner of the J-5 Broaddus firm that serves as the city’s project manager. “We cheated. We were whispering the answers to each other. Hey, you do what you gotta do.”
The rest of the adult panel included school board president Jason Spears, Police Chief Fred Shelton, Fire Chief Martin Andrews, District Attorney Scott Colom, Columbus Light and Water General Manager Todd Gale and youth ministers Andy Setiawan and James Wilson, both from Vibrant Church.
Columbus Mayor Robert Smith was unable to attend and was replaced by 13-year-old Mackenzie Marsat, whose mom, Lindsey, is a fifth-grade teacher at Sale.
The student panelists were fourth-graders Leah Brandon, Brayden Quinn, Noah Montgomery, Venesha Godfrey and Carrisa Jenkins; and fifth-graders Skyler Covin, Kayori Hopkins, Eileigh Phelan, Daymion Radney, Destin Poindexter, Elijah Obomanu, Madison Minor, Bailey Washington, Saniya Harris and Alan Walker.
Sale Principal Kimberly Blunt pronounced the event, part of the school’s Positive Behavior Intervention Support Program, a success.
“We’re always trying to come up with new ideas for our programs,” Blunt said. “So when someone suggested this idea, it seemed perfect. The students were so excited about it, and I loved how the community leaders really got into it and played along with it. I think it’s important for the kids to see the leaders in our community and be able to relate to them. We’re so grateful they agreed to participate.
“It’s definitely something we’ll do again,” she added.
Next year, the title might change to “Are You More Nervous Than a Fifth Grader?”
Based on the demeanor of the adults before the competition began, there would definitely have been a conclusive answer to that question. Asked what was more stressful, running into a burning building or competing in a quiz with school kids, Andrews didn’t hesitate.
“I’d take running into a building every time,” the 30-year veteran of the city’s fire department said, laughing. “What have I gotten myself into?”
Shelton, who was the first adult to compete, was probably thinking the same thing.
His question was: What is a comparison using the words “like” or “as?”
Shelton answered “synonym.” The correct answer was “simile,” bringing down a chorus of cheers from the students.
“I got the hardest question of the whole day, right?” Shelton said, laughing at his misfortune. “But that’s all right. The students were great. I’m so proud of them.”
Each adult took the podium to answer two questions, selecting a student from the panel of experts to answer the question, as well, on categories ranging from reading and math to science and history.
Spears, who answered both his questions correctly, along with the bonus question, said he enjoyed the event. But he confessed he was happy it was over.
“I had more at stake than anybody,” he said. “I’m the school board president. If I had missed a question, I’d never hear the end of it.”
Yolanda Washington, vice president of the Sale PTO, said these events not only reward student achievement, it sticks with them.
“Our PTO wants to do something for our kids that they can remember from their time here,” she said. “I think this is something they’ll remember for a long time.”
So will the adults, most likely.
“It was fun,” Colom said. “I’m glad it’s over.”
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]