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AndersonFebruary is a month of love, of new starts as the new semester rolls around and of something every student in West Linn High School looks forward to — Survivor, a WLHS competition modeled after the television show of the same name.

Each year, seniors throughout the school audition to be named WLHS’s sole survivor. Each applicant is evaluated on willingness to play the game, game strategy and passion for the game. In the end, 12 students have the opportunity to compete for the title. This year’s competition was held Feb. 9-14.

Claiming this title is no easy feat. The 12 finalists spend a week sleeping, eating and competing within the walls of West Linn High School. Each day, the potential survivors must compete in two challenges as tribes, one for immunity and one for rewards.

Alongside of the challenges, each tribe attends tribal council and votes team members off, as on the TV show. At the end of the week, the school gathers for an assembly and the Sole Survivor is announced.

Being on student government, I have had the opportunity not only to organize Survivor, but also to experience the behind-the-scenes action. The entire week is organized by students and approved by the administration. The group in charge, ASB, carefully plans and tests every aspect of Survivor to produce the best show possible.

It is a monumental week not only for all of West Linn High School but also for the students involved in making the week happen. Leadership skills such as planning and execution, impromptu fixing and working both as a team and individually are all experiences had as a leader during Survivor week.

Survivor has also been presented by the WLHS student council at multiple national conferences and is starting to catch on in other schools around the country. This week produces opportunities for leadership that cannot be found in a workshop or book.

Setting aside leadership growth, I believe the most inspiring part of Survivor is watching the competitors befriend one another and grow.

ASB intentionally chooses a wide variety of competitors to represent each aspect of WLHS. Coming into the week, some competitors are friends, while others have never seen each other before. The first challenges are always a bit awkward and tension-ridden. These feelings dissipate overnight — literally.

After the tribal council of the first night, ASB sets aside time for the competitors to get to know one another. Being locked in a school could arguably be the best way to get to know a person.

Competitors have karaoke contests, card tournaments and Olympic relays around the halls of West Linn every night. Alongside the fun and games each night, every competitor has work to do in order to prevent elimination.

Alliances form very early in the week, and small-group conversations become the norm. In an alliance, trust and mutual respect are needed, both of which are heavily developed over the week. Each group of competitors is always a little different, but the story is always the same. By the end of the week, new friendships are formed and new perspectives are seen.

Survivor is not just a contest of winning a title. It truly is what West Linn High School stands for: unity.

Keeley Anderson is a senior at West Linn High School. She is contributing a regular column to the Tidings this school year.

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