Jonah Vu and Heather Tran
Warning: mild spoilers
Mrs. Ortega’s notorious Hunger Games unit has begun! Eighth grade honors English students had a chance to be reaped and entered in the slightly less violent version of the Games. There are two districts: District 14 (period 3-4) and District 911 (period 7-8).
After reading up to the reaping chapter of the book, students were given slips of paper to be reaped in the class’ game. The reaping followed the rules of tesserae, which in the novel are tokens worth a year of rice and fuel for one person in exchange for more slips of paper placed in the reaping, so students that were older and had more siblings were given more slips. Mrs. Ortega, impersonating the famous Effie Trinket, pulled out the names while the students sat in nervous anticipation.
District 14’s tributes are Bill Tran and Elise Coatney while District 911’s tributes are Alan Tathanhlong and Lauren Phan. Tributes won’t be fighting each other to the death, though; they have to write down any symbolism they find in the book while the class reads The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins together. The more symbolism they write on large posters, the more points they receive. The tribute with the most points, in the end, will win the Games and bring honor to their district.
Tributes from the same district still compete against each other, so it’s everyone for themselves. However, beginning in chapter 14, fellow classmates could be “sponsors” and help out the tributes by writing down symbolism and stating who they were sponsoring. This derived from Katniss receiving her first silver parachute containing a gift from Haymitch and other sponsors watching the Games.
Currently, Alan is in first place, followed by Elise, Lauren, and Bill. Elise, who had been in first place during the entire unit up until about a week ago, states that her “motivation for winning the Games is beating the other class, but I have lost it. I feel like there is too much pressure on one person for the success of the whole class.” As a result of this, Alan caught up to her and passed her, but both are closely followed by Lauren.
In addition to writing down symbolism, tributes will be given pop quizzes as the unit goes on. Clues of what will be on the quizzes are written on long slips of paper with a mockingjay symbol. They are scattered in various places around the school but are hard to come by. Several were found in Mr. Yohn’s display case, Miss Phan’s class, Mrs. Cleckler’s class, and other classrooms. Tributes recently took their first quiz composed of these clues, but their scores have not been revealed yet.
Alan says his toughest competitor is Elise and that he is “kind of confident [of winning] but I have a lot of competition so I have to work hard.” He states that the hardest part of being a tribute “is writing all the symbolism down.” Elise also agrees that “the hardest part of being a tribute is finding all of the symbolism in my free time and having to be alert all the time while reading. Also, everything I write has to be perfect or else I feel like I’ll be judged.”
Being a tribute is definitely tough because they have to find a lot of symbolism on their own while the rest of the class can just copy it down. Finding symbolism is very time-consuming because they have to find what the object represents, as well as how it relates to the book. Tributes never get to sit down and enjoy reading the novel; instead, they have to carefully analyze every page being read.
So while everyone loves The Hunger Games, don’t forget that most of us have it easy; the tributes have the most work to do.