This weekend's competition in Wisconsin is a bit more intense than it was in your grade school gym class.
Pink hair – check. Outrageous clothes – check. Fight to the death match – not so much.
Students at Bristrol Eastern High School in Bristol, Conn. are ardent Hunger Games fans, but their recent reenactment of the popular novels by Suzanne Collins stopped short of physical violence.
School librarian Janet Kenney came up with the idea for the school to host its own Hunger Games to celebrate the books, in anticipation of the film debut this week.
In the books, heroine Katniss Everdeen becomes one of 24 tributes forced to take part in a fight to the death reality TV match. At Bristol Eastern High School, Kenney drew the “tributes” from a pool of student volunteers. She even dressed up as Effie Trinket, the many-hued representative of the repressive Capitol, to add some flare to the event.
Kenney said the students faced physical, mental and artistic challenges, and they tried to stay true to several plot points (without the violence).
“We had a cornucopia filled with backpacks with random supplies,” Kenney told Here & Now’s Robin Young. The students were then challenged to build their own sling shots and they practiced shooting at a picture of the book’s villian, President Snow.
Kenney said she thinks the books hook so many readers because of the personal connections they make, not because of the violence.
“It’s more about the emotions of Katniss and the feelings she has about her family,” Kenney said. “I think everyone can relate to that.”
The winner was an 11th grader named Chantel. She received a dozen roses, a $25 gift card to the movies and the admiration of her fellow students.
But Kenney said the most rewarding part was getting kids excited about books.
“They got a real comraderie in sharing a book the way they normally share about movies or music or the latest YouTube video,” Kenney said. “They’re all sharing and united over a book. And that to me, as a librarian, is fabulous.”