Paw Paw High students attend premiere
Around 55 Paw Paw High School students and chaperones attended a private March 23 premiere of the movie the “Hunger Games” at The Alamo dinner theater in Winchester. Students earned the field trip for reading the young adult novel and doing accompanying projects.
High school language arts teacher Melissa Huff Salvatore made arrangements for the showing. Her eighth, ninth and 11th grade students read the book as a class assignment. A 10th grade group formed a book club to read the novel.
The story is set in a post-apocalyptic North America where food and commodities are scarce. A tyrannical regime requires that each of 12 districts send two participants between the ages of 12 and 18 to fight to the death in the annual games, which are televised as entertainment.
In the “Hunger Games,” the last surviving combatant receives a lifetime supply of food and luxuries for themselves and their families, Salvatore said. Their district also gets a year’s supply of desperately needed food.
Students identified with the narrator and lead character Katniss Everdeen, who lives in the coal mining district of Appalachia. Everdeen is resourceful and a skilled archer and stealthy hunter.
Class projects deepened students’ understanding of the novel. Kids became real-time characters in the book using a school-based site similar to Facebook called Edmodo. They created personality profiles, photos and friends for characters and found music to fit them, Salvatore said.
Students also used quotes and character traits to create t-shirts, which they wore to the premiere.
Salvatore conducted a simulated raffle where, as in the book, poorer residents were required to put their names in the drawing more times in exchange for basic supplies. She also put posters around the school with lines from the novel.
Teens wrote a research paper on the novel’s symbolism. They are also rewriting scenes from the book with different endings or writing journal entries from a specific character’s viewpoint.
Several students have published their creative writing projects on a national student-based website, she said.
Kids loved it
Students were completely engrossed by the book. Some reluctant readers bought the sequels and want to read them as a class, Salvatore said.
Some worried that the movie wouldn’t stay true to the book. Having so many kids change from saying “Who needs to read the book when the movie is better” to feeling “There’s no way the movie can be as good as the book” was music to her ears, Salvatore said.
Funding for the trip was provided by the West Virginia 21st Century Thinkfinity Grant that Salvatore and two of her English classes received for innovative lessons. It was also funded by the Paw Paw Schools PTO.