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Second-graders show they can think quickly on their feet to keep themselves safe
Students respond to real-life situations
Colton Godfrey, Quick Think-a-Thon champion 2024
Exchange Club President Jimmy Rutland (left) presents the champion trophy to Colton Godfrey from South Effingham Elementary with Dr. Sandra Wallace-Nethels, special programs coordinator, behind. First runner-up Mackinley Johnson, also from South Effingham, cheers for her classmate in the background. (Photos by Barbara Augsdorfer/Effingham Herald.)

By Barbara Augsdorfer, Editor for the Effingham Herald

The 22nd annual Quick Think-a-Thon sponsored by the Effingham County Exchange Club was held at the ECHS gym March 27. The classroom champions from all eight Effingham County elementary schools answered questions based on real-life situations – all hoping to be the county champion.

Students had to answer three on-the-spot questions, and no two students were asked the same question. While the questions could be answered simply “yes” or “no”, the student had to include higher-level thinking skills such as reasoning, and remember details. It was okay to ask for the situation to be repeated.

Mike Cihla, anchor/reporter at Savannah TV station WTOC, was the quiz master.

The 16 finalists – all barely 8 years old – had to answer questions such as, “Your friend finds a box in the closet that contains a gun. He thinks it might be fun to play with it. What does the Foozer say you should do?”

Mackinley Johnson
Mackinley Johnson smiles with the Foozer behind her after she answers one of her questions.
The child might answer, “The Foozer says you should not play with the gun because it’s dangerous and you or your friend could get hurt. Then you should tell your parents or another trusted adult what happened.”

The Foozer, played by Sundi Williams from State Farm Insurance in Rincon, acts like a good conscience for the child, helping him or her to make the right or safe decision.

Another question might be, “You’re shopping with your mom and she’s looking at sheets and towels. You’re bored and want to go to the toy department. Should you go to the toy department to look at the toys while she shops for sheets and towels?”

“No,” said Asa Busbee from Rincon Elementary. “You should stay with your mom and then go with her to the toy department. Never go without a parent when you’re shopping at the mall.”

A panel of judges scored the students on several items including presentation, their ability to hit all the proper points, most of which included, “and tell your parents, which some kids missed,” said Regina Clontz, director at the Mars Theater in Springfield, who was one of the judges.

In addition to Clontz, the panel of judges included: Dr. Franklin Goldwire, magistrate court judge and retired educator; Diane Owens, high school curriculum coordinator; Eva Goldwire, patient care tech; Dr. Norman Wallace, retired educator; and Pastor Lon Harden, Macedonia Baptist Church, and member of the Industrial Development Authority.

After about 90 minutes of each student answering three random situations, the judges named Colton Godfrey from South Effingham Elementary the 2024 Quick Think-a-Thon champion. He was awarded a trophy, and a brand-new bike and bike helmet. South Effingham also had the first runner-up, Mackinley Johnson; second runner-up was Asa Busbee and third runner-up was Emma Schrein, both from Rincon Elementary. The runners-up received trophies.

In addition to the four winners, the class champions in the finals were: Emery Vanderhouten and Morrison Atkinson, Blandford Elementary; Carson Souls and Logan Blackburn, Ebenezer Elementary; Kennedy Thomas and Raelyn Atchey from Guyton Elementary; Eli Barnard and Cayden Lynch from Marlow Elementary; Kira Harvey (alternate) and Avery Bell from Sand Hill Elementary; Reid Holloway and Aubrey Green from Springfield Elementary.