THE AMAZING FIVE
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February 12, 2024
Amazing Shake finalists are looking forward to Wednesday's corporate event in Detroit; winner to be named later in week.
On Wednesday, Feb. 14, the five finalists in this year's Amazing Shake at Notre Dame Prep will meet at Detroit-based StockX, a reseller of new or like-new sneakers and street wear, to pitch their marketing plans to Cory Tincher, co-founder and investor of the Dan Gilbert-backed company.
Such an activity would be daunting for seasoned professionals, let alone middle-school students like Sebastian Gonzalez (8th grade), Audrey Love (8th), Ellie Mermell (6th), Max Mermell (8th) and William Platt (8th).
But for siblings Ellie and Max Mermell, this fourth round in NDP's third annual Amazing Shake competition is something for which they're both well prepared.
"I am very much looking forward to the next round," Ellie said. "I have been working hard on research, my presentation and my presentation skills. But even though I have never had to do a business pitch before, it's very exciting to learn and try something new."
Brother Max likewise feels ready for Wednesday's round.
"I can say without hesitation that I am looking forward to the corporate presentation in Detroit," said the eighth grader. "I imagine it will be an experience like no other, and I am happy to obtain some knowledge and insight into what giving a business pitch requires and feels like."
After Wednesday's round, the top three students go on to compete this Thursday in the final round, “HR Corporate Interview,” with a senior director and HR business partner at Taubman Company LLC, a management and leasing company of regional, super-regional and outlet malls in the U.S. and Asia.
Max Mermell says it feels amazing to be in the top five but acknowledges a bit of surprise as well. He's happy, however, that he's gone further than last year.
"I think it shows personal improvement from last year, when I would not consider myself socially able to achieve getting where I am now," he said. "I'm proud of myself and grateful for the opportunity to express my growth, having come this far."
Ellie Mermell also looks at her finalist position as a real accomplishment.
"I feel so amazing about finishing in the top five," she said. "I feel as though I am making my family, friends and school proud."
She also feels that she's been given a unique opportunity, one that has been afforded to other young students like her who get involved in the Amazing Shake. And, she said, it's a good learning process especially for her since it's her first experience with the competition.
"There are some unknowns, of course, seeing that tomorrow there will be a real company judging your ideas and delivery of said idea as opposed to your English teacher, for example, grading a paper. But that's all part of the newness and challenge, and the newness and challenge also is part of the fun and growth."
Ultimately, one middle school student from Notre Dame Prep will be declared the winner of the school's 2024 Amazing Shake and he or she will be registered to compete in Atlanta in March to represent Michigan against the top performers from around the world at the global competition.
Plans already are underway for next year's Amazing Shake at Notre Dame Prep and it's clear that the students involved this year understand the benefits of such an activity.
"The Amazing Shake is incredibly important for students of middle-school age," said Max Mermell, who noted that some students may have different expectations before getting involved. "What it gives you is something better — a variety of new and sometimes uncomfortable experiences. But it's also expanding your experience and knowledge in a great way to get a head-start on the social skills that will be important later in life."
His sister also gets it.
"The Amazing Shake is an important thing for middle schoolers because most kids, and even adults, don't learn these life skills until later in life and become very stressed out when they do come into play," she said. "With the Amazing Shake, no matter what kind of person you are, after you complete even just one round, you will be better prepared for life."
Top five finalist and eighth grader Audrey Love said the skills learned by participating in the Amazing Shake are going to pay dividends well into her future.
"The Amazing Shake is important for middle schoolers for many reasons," she said. "It allows middle schoolers to discover their confidence when talking to others and to learn to think on our feet in awkward situations. We will be able to easier insert ourselves into conversations, maintain steady eye contact and develop strong handshakes, of course.
"I think it also prepares us for future adult-like situations such as job interviews, navigating a workplace mistakes, and making a sales pitch. All of these valuable skills are not always taught in schools and students should take advantage of such a powerful program that will be so important in our future lives."
Fellow finalist and eighth-grade classmate William Platt says the event is big for learning how best to communicate in any given situation.
"The Amazing Shake is a great way for students to learn communication skills," he said. "I think it's important for middle schoolers to do this because it will help them in high school and for getting into college as well as in their future career. I think every middle schooler learns something from the Amazing Shake.
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About Notre Dame Preparatory School
Notre Dame Preparatory School is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School's upper school enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame Prep's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the National Association of Independent Schools. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School, visit the school’s home page at www.ndpma.org.