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Southmoreland wins 'Hunger Games' challenge over Mt. Pleasant

| Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, 9:15 a.m.
The Independent-Observer
The Golden Soup Can was presented to Southmoreland High School for winning a competition with rival Mt. Pleasant involving the collection of canned goods for the Westmoreland County Food Bank. On hand for the presentation were, from left: Tasha Johnson, Southmoreland High School senior; Bethany Hutira, National Honor Society advisor, and Clarissa Amond, food bank's community outreach coordinator. Paul Paterra | The Independent-Observer

The Golden Soup Can trophy has made its way to Southmoreland High School.

After all, the students there - and throughout the district - earned it with their victory in the “Hunger Games” challenge over cross-town rival Mt. Pleasant.

The two districts engaged in competition to collect the most canned goods to be delivered to the Westmoreland County Food Bank in Delmont. The title of the challenge came from the popular teen novel and film.

The collection drive culminated at the Sept. 14 football game between the two schools.

The Southmoreland School District collected 2,025 pounds of food, with 849 coming from the high school alone. Southmoreland Primary Center collected 415 pounds of food, the elementary school 662 pounds and the middle school 99 pounds. Another 50 pounds was collected at the football game.

The Golden Soup Can was presented to the school Friday. Tasha Johnson, a member of the National Honor Society, was on hand for the presentation. She said it was nice to defeat Mt. Pleasant in the competition, while at the same time work toward a good cause.

“It's a win-win,” she said. “It feels good that our school came together to do something good. Everyone thinks that high school kids are bad kids. We're not bad kids. We do have hearts. We are people.”

Johnson admitted to doing a lot of arm-pulling in the high school's effort to collect the most food.

“I had to do a lot of motivation,” Johnson said, smiling. “I was literally going to every single one of my classes, (asking) ‘Did you guys bring cans?' I knew I was annoying, but it got my point across. They brought in their cans.”

Presenting the trophy to the school Friday was Clarissa Amond, community outreach coordinator with the food bank.

“It was a good cause,” she said. “These communities, they have rallied together. Even though it's a trophy or something to start the rivalry, in the end, we're feeding people, they're feeding people, they're getting a sense of community and a sense of what it means to be a community. That's the most important part. To hear people talking about it and getting excited about it, that's what it's all about.”

Amond came up with the name for the trophy, then realized she had to construct one to give to the winners.

“A couple of Lego pieces, a can spray-painted,” Amond said of some of the items used to build the trophy. “We put a lot of heart into it at the food bank, because we want to get kids excited about it. I can see tradition just passing it on through the rivalry.”

This marked the second year Southmoreland's National Honor Society delved into collecting goods for the food bank, collecting more than 4,000 canned goods in 2011.

Bethany Hutira, adviser to Southmoreland's National Honor Society, admitted to being “overwhelmed” by what the district's students accomplished.

“When they told us the total,,. (I thought) we really did it,” she said. “Having 2,025 pounds of cans was just this moment of pride. The kids are all excited. When they come into the (classroom), they're looking at the trophy. I think that's starting that tradition so that they have competitive spirit to do more next year. Let's see if we can get 1,000 pounds at the high school or more. They're excited. I'm excited. I couldn't be happier with the results.”

Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101.