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Turns Out, Wilton's Fifth-Graders Are Smarter

WILTON, Conn. – Indignation, frustration, encouragement and cheers rang out Friday night at the Wilton High School's Clune Center as crowd participation soared at the Wilton Education Foundation’s second annual “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth-Grader” contest.

The room was filled with the sounds of children yelling out corrections to their peers and teachers as the adults tried to determine whether the children's answers were actually right.

The four contestants — three teachers and a National Merit Scholar finalist — took to the Clune Center stage. Each answered seven questions written by Cider Mill Elementary School fifth-grade teachers.

“It’s a time to be funny and ham it up,” Wilton High senior Will Jankowski said before the show started.

And two-time emcee Sal Giaimo, a kindergarten teacher at Miller-Driscoll Elementary School, hit his stride, entering the auditorium by running through the aisles and then doing push-ups on stage.

Gaining the audience’s approval was a factor, as Cider Mill science teacher Kevin Meehan soon discovered. When asked how many outs there are in mattball, he said "two." But when the audience groaned, he quickly said, “But hold on!” He revised his answer with help from Gerri Fox, who correctly answered "four.”

“Wilton is so centered on sports, and this is a good counter balance to that,” said Foundation Chair Kit Smith. “This gives the students a chance to shine, too.”

“I think it’s a really great showcase for the kids,” said Debbie McGrath, a live-in nanny in Wilton. “It’s very encouraging for the kids to have all the encouragement coming up from the audience.”

Each contestant made sure to bring the kids into their answers. For each question, a fifth-grader would sit next to the podium. Frequently, a contestant would ask who was best at a category such as Third Grade Math or Fifth Grade American History.

On top of that, the contestants were given a “copy, a peak and a save,” Giaimo explained at the start. That meant a contestant could use the fifth-grader's answer, look at their answer, or if the kid was feeling nice, they could save the contestant from getting the answer wrong.

In the end, all four contestants and the 24 students walked away winners. The proceeds from the event will go toward buying SMARTBoards for every classroom.

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