“I can’t take credit for the idea,” Arnold was quick to say. “Jess Bowman, the librarian at Canton-Galva, had included the idea on a list serve for libraries—how she had done it with her kids and how it had gone over so well.
“There were a few things that we added or adapted, but it was her idea.”
In the science-fiction book and movie, the ruling government organizes a competition that involve representatives, called “tributes,” from each geographic district. Each tribute competes in the Hunger Games with the hope of winning provisions for the district she or he represents.
Citizens of each district do their best to support their tribute’s success.
“I’m sure some people may not like that fact that it’s kids killing kids,” Arnold said about the library’s endorsement of the wildly popular book and movie.
“We were trying to promote reading and showing how it could be fun,” she said. “I don’t think I could say our goal was to promote school spirit, but I think it brought some out. That was a side benefit.”
Each building had an identical, but separate, contest. “Districts” were designated according to class year, plus one district comprised of teachers (“District T”).
The winning high school “district” received an additional free study period as its prize, while the middle school districts competed for additional points for its year-long “Outstanding Class” competition.
“Tributes” for each district were chosen though a multi-stage process.
“They could use the Internet, the book, the movie, their friends to get the answers—it didn’t matter,” Arnold said.
Students with the top 24 scores survived to the next stage, which was a Luck Round.
“We had papers all around the school, and the participants had to sign up on a particular line,” Arnold said. “We had predetermined traps. For instance, if you signed on Line 6, and it was a trap, then you were eliminated from the contest. That was ‘bad luck.’”
With the field of tributes whittled to 20, the third stage was a Support Round, where students could come to the library to vote for the surviving tributes from their district.
“They could vote as many times as they wanted and for as many people as they wanted—it didn’t matter,” Arnold said. “We had literally bags full of names. It was incredible.”
The 12 top vote-getting tributes advanced to the fourth and fifth stages, which were Skills and Competitions rounds. The Skills Round eliminated eight candidates, leaving four for a final obstacle course that determined the individual winner.
Art instructor Dustin Dalke actually won the high school competition for “District T,” but Shaq Thiessen won the student prize for the HHS junior class. Senior Aaron Slater was next in line.
Elias Werth won the top middle-school prize for the sixth-grade class with sixth-grader Brandon Wiebe second and seventh-grader Bryce Brouillette and Dalke as runners up.
Arnold said the local contest was a lot of work, but well worth the effort.
“I thank the kids and the teachers for jumping on board and being a part of it—and the teachers for pushing the kids a bit to get involved,” she said.
“I think it raised some excitement and enthusiasm in the school.”