San Antonio elementary school students’ ‘life lesson moment’ can teach us all about kindness, resilience

An exchange between young competitors exemplified leadership qualities

Fifth-grade student Lyla Harrington from Oak Creek Elementary was this year’s Comal Shake champion. Third-grade student Ethan Jaramillo from Indian Springs Elementary competed in the final round.
Fifth-grade student Lyla Harrington from Oak Creek Elementary was this year’s Comal Shake champion. Third-grade student Ethan Jaramillo from Indian Springs Elementary competed in the final round. (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – Two San Antonio elementary school students learned a lot more than they anticipated after they took part in a Comal Independent School District conversation contest back in January.

According to the district, Ethan Jaramillo, a third-grade student from Indian Springs Elementary School, became visibly upset when he learned that he did not win this year’s Comal Shake, a district-wide competition that is designed to develop interpersonal and conversational skills. In the moment, he tried his best to fight back tears.

The winner of the competition, Oak Creek Elementary School fifth-grader Lyla Harrington, said she was in fact thinking about Jaramillo and how it felt to lose the past three years when she said she heard her name called as the selected winner.

“I was thinking about how awesome he had done,” Harrington said. “I thought he had done so much better than I would have done when I was in the third grade. I just thought that he was fantastic.”

Jaramillo, taking the advice of his mother, approached Harrington to congratulate her and ask her for some tips on how to improve for next year.

Third-grade student Ethan Jaramillo from Indian Springs is sharpening his conversational skills for next year’s Comal Shake competition (KSAT)

Harrington said she could see his sadness that he wasn’t chosen for a tie-breaking round.

“There was no one there (in the past) to tell me, ‘Hey, you’ve got next year. You’re fine.’ When I saw him, I knew that he needed some encouragement, and I knew that I could give it to him. So, I did, and I was really glad that I did,” Harrington said.

Comal ISD’s director of fine arts who organized the competition, Carla Schumann, witnessed the exchange.

“This was a life lesson moment, for not only the two students, but for all of us witnessing it,” Schumann said. “Both students exemplified leadership qualities and the character traits we strive to teach them. I was amazed by the kindness and intuition shown by our champion and equally impressed by the resilience and fortitude of the younger competitor.”

Jaramillo said in the future he will follow Harrington’s advice and work harder for next year’s competition by listening and following the conversation instead of simply changing its course.

“Persevere your way through,” Jaramillo said. “You should try, try and try again. The definition of foolishness is doing the exact same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

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About the Author:

Ben Spicer is a digital journalist who works the early morning shift for KSAT.