Chicago second grade class gives award-winning Auburn University presentation

Published: June 22, 2015
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A second grade class at The "New" Schmid Elementary School in Chicago recently yelled "War Eagle" after being declared the winners of their school's college week.

The students in Quinlan Matthew's class, joined by Vanessa Goodar's special education students, chose to give a presentation on Auburn University in the school's annual competition this year. This was Matthew's fourth year to have her class win the competition, but the first year her students represented Auburn.

"My husband, his grandfather and his great-grandfather are all Auburn graduates, so he helped us prepare," said Matthew. "He actually took a day off of work and helped the kids practice."

Andrea Black, interim principal at the school, gives each class a rubric to follow in gathering information and then has three judges score each class at the end of each year. With just 200 students, the neighborhood school only has one second grade class, and each class, from pre-K level to 8th grade, gives a presentation on a university in the competition.

"We're a Title I school, so at least 90 percent of our students live below the poverty line and we want more for them than maybe what they have now," said Matthew. "We instill in them that college is a pathway into the world."

The motto at The "New" Schmid is "practicing excellence without excuses," and Matthew's class displayed this in all of its hard work. After choosing Auburn as their university, each student had to choose a topic to research and then memorized the information for the presentation.

Although Matthew did begin teaching her class The Auburn Creed and the fight song a few months in advance, she said her students were able to memorize their information in as little as a week.

"The students are in charge of making their own flashcards and posters," said Matthew. "They practice the presentation with index cards and go from start to finish until they slowly stop using them and have everything memorized."

Each student researched academic information, collegiate athletics and traditions. In the end, the students were able to recite their information, beginning with The Auburn Creed and finished by singing the fight song. After filming her student's presentation on June 12, Matthew said she never realized the impact her students would have on the Auburn community.

"If they work hard this is the kind of reaction it can elicit," said Matthew. "I can't show them a better example of that. They were so proud of themselves before, but it was really cool to see that they worked hard and that it all paid off."

To view the presentation, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKpY4qg2eAs.

To view the reaction Matthew's class had to winning the competition, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0sZj_uAytg.