Ridge Burns
Ridge Burns

The Amazing Shake, Part I


January 2022

I spent a day at a middle school here in southern California that has a program called The Amazing Shake. It’s for sixth- through eighth-graders, and it’s to help them know how to handle certain adult situations, like how to interview, how to introduce yourself, and how to make a presentation. It pretty much covers the whole gamut of stressful things that an adolescent might face. One of them is to be interviewed by a CEO and to have a conversation for five minutes in front of their peers. My job was to interview them.

The event started with 170 students, and as they went through a variety of tasks and conversations, some got eliminated. I talked with the top 16 students out of 170, and the interviews were amazing! I was impressed by the dreams these students have and their need to belong. One girl was saying, “I don’t fit. I don’t have a place. I’m not a sixth grader; I was never a fifth grader. I never felt like I was myself except when I was in fourth grade.” She needed a safe place that could be connected to her.

During this time, I gave a last word to each one of the students. In our church we call it a blessing, but in a secular school, we just called it advice. I would make sure they walked out of that room feeling like they did a good job, like they really communicated well. It was an amazing day and made me proud of our school system, that these students were given a chance to show their confidence. The Amazing Shake was quite a day for me.