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Clark students experience Survival Day

Case Edmonds leads his class on Survival Day. The Clark language arts classes continued a tradition they started last year by building survival shelters on the campus grounds. The project capped off a unit which featured books about survival. Teachers designed the "Survivor" contest to allow the 7th-graders to be hands-on and creative based on what they had been reading in class.

According to Ms. Sally Hooks, Survival Day pitted Pre-AP language arts classes against each other to build the best “shelter.”

“Students have been reading about survival, including, ‘Trapped,’ which is a book about students who were stuck in their school during a blizzard,” Ms. Hooks said. “In the past they have also read some non-fiction, like the story that recounts the Andes plane crash and survival efforts of some of the 1972 rugby team.”

According to Ms. Hooks, the details about Survival Day were a secret until the day arrived, and each class divided into teams to compete to build the most effective shelter.

“To culminate this unit, students were building shelters all day,” she said. “Obviously, we couldn’t follow the book exactly because we aren’t going to have blizzards in Texas, so the students had to improvise.”

Ms. Hooks said the original “Survival Day” idea came from a conversation she had with her son, Landry Hooks, who was a former Navy Seabee 3rd Class Petty Officer who’s had plenty of survival training.

Blake Lewis anchors the shelter. “Last year, I told my son about the books we were reading and how I wanted them to make a shelter using paper,” she said. “He said, ‘Why don’t they make them out of more than paper?’”

She and her family gathered tarp, string, brush, limbs and boxes as building materials, and Survival Day was born.

“This was an opportunity to give students a chance to do something hands-on,” Ms. Hooks said. “My son gave a brief talk about survival and what works and what doesn’t. He also gave parameters, as well as how to set goals and how he was going to judge the shelters.”

Now some students have Survival Day bragging rights.

“The survival project was a lot of fun,” said 7th-grader Case Edmonds. “Everyone worked really well together, and someone stepped up to lead the group, but everyone was free to try their ideas and work on different things. Our book was about students being trapped in a school. If that happened here in Princeton, I'm not sure the victims would be able to work together to survive.

Student Mason Hovind said the students used their common sense on the project.

“It was a fun project,” Mason said. “I learned how to build a shelter with limited resources.  Our group decided that a tepee design made the most sense with the supplies we were given.”

According to 7th-grader Elizabeth Todd, the students had to collaborate.

“Our group worked together without any arguing,” she said. “Which was surprising.”