RME Amazing Race

Submitted photo

A team of third-grade teachers work to build a marshmallow and spaghetti tower. The challenge was part of the school’s Amazing Race. The tower had to be exactly 36 inches tall, have both an obtuse and acute angle and stand for at least 30 seconds.


If Justin Altice, assistant principal of Rocky Mount Elementary School, should ever leave school administration, he could go to work designing race challenges for the TV show “The Amazing Race.” Altice recently led his school’s faculty on their own version of the show after having participated in a similar competition earlier this summer with his colleagues from Franklin County Public Schools.

“It was so much fun for us. I knew our faculty would love it,” Altice said. “I wanted everyone to have fun, see where our kids came from and laugh and have fun with each other.”

Altice said he wanted the faculty to see the school’s zone, which is a long, narrow area that encompasses Angle Plantation Road on Virginia 122 to Virginia 40 near Redwood Minute Market, as well as parts of the Town of Rocky Mount. He picked out landmarks, businesses and locations for his faculty to visit.

One thing Altice didn’t plan? “How competitive everyone would be,” he said. “They had paint on their faces, bandanas, team shirts, etc.”

There were 11 teams that participated with five members per team. The race featured nine stops for challenges and 21 places for photo opportunities for extra credit.

Challenges included two STEM activities using materials such as large marshmallows and spaghetti to build towers of certain heights and angles, making a purchase at Goodwill for less than $2, visiting “The Lane” area of Rocky Mount to take a picture with at least three teammates playing on the playground and filling a water jug with “Holy Water” found at 5090 Six Mile Post Road.

Photo opportunities included a garden, a road name with four letters or less, a group selfie at the corner of Calico Rock and Coles Creek roads, the Byrd View Cemetery sign and a cow.

The mission was successful, Altice said, as everyone said they loved the event, learned where their kids lived and had fun seeing the different sides of their coworkers.

“With myself being new to RMES, it let me get to know my coworkers better,” said Ashley Ferrell, a counselor at the school.

“It’s really important to see where our kids live,” added second-grade teacher Staci Ohlerich. “A lot of the teachers don’t live in the school’s zone.”

Rocky Mount Elementary Principal Lisa Newell said she appreciated the hands-on learning opportunities for the teachers as it will help them to teach more creatively and be better able to meet the learning needs of their students.

At the end of the competition, the winning team was The Itinerants that included Ferrell, Rachel Zinn, school librarian, Bradley Lang, a physical education teacher, and Becky Furrow and Jessica Pratt, student intervention specialists. Combined the team had 53 years of experience as educators.

“We had the perfect combination of youth, brains, good looks, athleticism, tech savvy and enthusiasm,” Lang said lightheartedly.

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