Gaston fifth-graders, adults raise scholarship fundsGaston Gazette — Gavin Stewart Gaston Gazette
Feb. 14--Raising money has never been more fun than the Gaston County Education Foundation's 11th annual Are You Smarter Than a Gaston County Fifth-Grader competition.
Eighteen teams – each made of adults from a local business or organization and fifth-graders from a Gaston County school – spent several weeks preparing, studying and planning a team theme. On Thursday evening, the teams battled over three rounds of fifth grade-level math, science, social studies and language arts' questions, mostly based on end-of-year tests.
Cheerleaders and mascots from each team were responsible for keeping spirits high throughout the night. Steve D'Avria, president and CEO of the Gaston Regional Chamber, became emcee of the fundraiser in 2018 and doesn't recall the Stuart W. Cramer High School auditorium being nearly as full as it was Thursday.
"And not nearly as loud," he said.
The North Belmont Elementary/Gastonia East Rotary team – dressed as pencil-pushing test-takers in ties and glasses – won round one and were faced by the Sherwood Elementary/Leadership Gaston and Sadler Elementary/Firestone Fibers and Textiles teams, winners of round two and three, in the championship round.
For the first time in the event's history, North Belmont took home the gold and bragging rights. Plus, North Belmont broke the Lowell Elementary/Dominion Energy team's chance at a three-peat after winning in 2018 and 2019.
"It's amazing what can happen when two organizations come together," said North Belmont Principal Justin Beam, who served as a team trainer. "We were on pins and needles."
North Belmont first partnered with Gastonia East Rotary Club in 2018. Beam said the club helped transform the Screaming Eagles into a winning-mentality team.
"We love Gastonia East Rotary. They are family," he said. "They just do a lot for us, as far as prep work and getting the kids excited."
Proceeds from the competition benefits the Gaston County Education Foundation's Ron L. Ensley grant program, which provides teachers with funds for innovative classroom projects and lessons. A win or loss, Beam's just happy to help make a difference.
"It's a great opportunity to raise money. The education foundation does a great job to help the schools," Beam said. "It helps us to form partnerships with our community."
Gaston County Education Foundation executive director Amy Spencer said this year's competition raised $40,000.
You can reach Gavin Stewart at 704-869-1819 or on Twitter @GavinGazette.
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