O Heroes is proud to present Jamesha Youngblood as February's 'Hero of the Month' for her ingenuity, hard work and follow-thru on a service learning project that lets Oregon athletes interact with local fourth-graders in a fun-yet-competitive way.
'Are you Smarter than a 4th Grader'?
“You’re goin’ down,” deadpans an over-confident, 4’10” fourth grader as he stares intently into the eyes of offensive lineman Darrion Weems on a recent Friday afternoon at Cesar Chavez Elementary school. Weems isn’t fazed; he looks straight back at the kid with a little smile. Both students’ peers watch excitedly as the question is read.
Creator and facilitator of the event, Jamesha Youngblood, microphone in hand, reads slowly, “how do you spell the word… alligator?”
The bell is rung before Jamesha has even finished the question. Weems was the first to ring in. Confidently he rattles off, “A-L-L-I-G-A-T…” he pauses, thinks, and finally continues, “E-R.”
“Uh oh!” exclaims Jamesha, “that’s not the right answer!” Weems is defeated and makes grand gestures of disappointment. The youngster quickly spells the word with the correct ending and his hands shoot into the air in a fit of victory. The entire fourth grade class of Cesar Chavez explodes with excitement. There is undecipherable screaming, singing and clapping.
This was the atmosphere throughout the entire hour and a half-long ‘Are you Smarter than a 4th Grader?’ event. Everyone was having a great time and no matter whom answered a given question right or wrong; the young students always received a high-five from the Duck they competed against.
All that fun and learning was exactly what five-time all-American jumper and sprinter, Jamesha Youngblood, had in mind when she created the ‘Are you Smarter than a 4th Grader?’ program.
“In the FHS (Family & Human Services) program we have to come up with a senior project in order to graduate and it has to be related to our senior site (mine is O Heroes) ... so I thought that ‘Are You Smarter than a 4th grader?’ would be a good way to get student athletes out in the community and also have fun at the same time.”
She was right. It was fun. Jamesha said that she really enjoyed seeing how excited both teams were when the game came down to a tie at the very end, “My favorite part from the day at César Chavez was when the competition came down to the last question. The student had his game face on!! When he answered the question right, all of his classmates ran up to him and were jumping up and down and chanting his name! That was the best part of the whole competition,” Youngblood said.
The nine student-athletes who participated in the event stayed to sign autographs and take photos with the kids after the event and even played a little dodgeball. At least two more 'Are you Smarter' programs are planned for next month and Youngblood hopes that the idea can carry on even after she graduates this spring.
Whether or not Weems does and always has known how to spell the word ‘alligator,’ the world may never know. What we do know, however, is that he contributed to making that day very special for many a young duck fan; and we have Ms. Jamesha Youngblood to thank for providing him that opportunity.
Way to go to our ‘Hero of the Month’ Jamesha; we hope you keep doing this kind of important work throughout the rest of the year and in your life after college as well!