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Second-graders display quick-thinking skills at Quick Think-a-Thon
Quick Think-a-Thon winner 2023
Abby James from Guyton Elementary won the 2023 Effingham County Think-a-Thon, sponsored by the Exchange Club. Pictured from left are: Dr. Sandra Wallace-Nethels, school board coordinator; Jimmy Rutland, Exchange Club president; winner Abby James, and Mike Cihla from WTOC who was the quiz master. The bicycle and helmet were donated by Wal-Mart. (Photos by Barbara Augsdorfer/Effingham Herald.)

By Barbara Augsdorfer, Editor for the Effingham Herald

They’re only eight years old, but already know how to think on their feet to do the right or safe thing in real-life situations.

Second-grade students from all eight Effingham County schools were bused to the Effingham County High School gym to cheer on their 16 classmates who were the finalists for the 2023 Quick Think-a-Thon, sponsored by The Exchange Club.

The Exchange Club developed the Quick Think-a-Thon based on the “Quick Think” game which teaches children to respond to situations involving peer pressure regarding alcohol, drugs and weapons; possible abductions, child abuse, medical emergencies, and so forth. This was the 21st year of the competition.

The 16 finalists were class champions chosen by their teachers based on their participation in the PowerPoint presentations of the questions. For this final, students had to respond to three randomly selected situations; and no two finalists were asked the same question. Sundi Williamson, from State Farm in Rincon, was the “Foozer” who acted like a good conscience to help the children.

Sample situations and questions included: “Your friends found some beer in the refrigerator and want you to drink some with them. What would the Foozer say you should do?” asked Mike Cihla from local TV station WTOC who acted as the quiz master.

The child had to answer the question in a complete sentence including their reasoning. Such as, “Foozer would say ‘No! You don’t drink alcohol even if your friends want you to.’ Then, you should tell your parents or another adult what happened.”

the Foozer
Ellie Johnson from Sand Hill Elementary listens intently to one of her questions while Sundi Williamson as the Foozer stands by to help.
Another question could be, “You’re walking home and a nice person in a car offers to take you home. What would Foozer say you should you do?”

The child could answer, “The Foozer would say ‘no thank you’ and the run the opposite direction because you should never get into a car with someone you don’t know. Then, tell an adult you trust what happened.”

After about 90 minutes of intense questions, answers, and cheering, the panel of judges selected Abby James from Guyton Elementary as the champion. She was awarded a trophy and bike and helmet, which were donated by Wal-Mart.

Other winners who also received trophies were: Gadsden Callais, Springfield Elementary (first runner-up); Charli Long, Marlow Elementary (second runner-up); and Devin Bethune, South Effingham Elementary (third runner-up).

Members of the judging panel included: Diane Owens, high school curriculum coordinator Effingham County School System; Elizabeth Waters, Effingham Health System Foundation director; Dr. Norma Wallace, retired educator; Dr. Franklin Goldwire, Magistrate Court Judge; Regina Clontz, director, Mars Theatre, Springfield; and Pastor Lon Harden, Macedonia Baptist Church, Guyton. Scorekeepers were Rebecca Boston, county DFCS director, retired; and James Presnell of Presnell Partners Real Estate.

In addition to the event winners, class champions who participated were: Maddox Webb, Vivian Tabolt, Claire Proctor, Cohler Screen, Alice Soares, Ellie Johnson, Alden Weese, Lorali Woods, Colt Baillargeon, Christian Brown, Aubrey Newton, and Noah Burnett.