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The Forum

The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

The Forum

The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

The Forum

Survivor: TV Competitions Become Reality

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Students on the Survivor Project Week clean their plates after whipping up a delicious meal in the Chopped challenge.

For Project Week, 24 Latin students engaged in a series of high-stakes contests led by Upper School teachers Chris van Benthuysen, Sarah Landis, Katie Jones Espinales, and Tania Smith. From sampling revolting flavors of jelly beans in a Survivor-inspired challenge, to scaling warped walls at Ultimate Ninjas Chicago, to building Lego sets using only a limited percentage of the instruction packet, students stepped outside of their comfort zones to score individual points and bring home the title of this project’s winner.

“I’m a big ‘Survivor’ junkie, so I was really proud of the challenges, because I felt like they all closely mimicked what you saw on some of these reality TV shows,” Mr. van Benthuysen said.

The week began with students split into eight groups. Instead of eliminating teams, as would happen in a typical reality television show, the Project Week leaders decided to allow teams to “draft” other students, choose teams to disband, and even reshuffle the groups completely.

As for one of the students’ favorite challenges, Chopped seems to have taken the cake. “I really liked the cooking challenge, because you got to get involved and eat the food you made,” sophomore Gisele Jozwiak said.

Tasked with crafting a chicken saltimbocca, crispy potato wedges, and garlicky green beans, members of the Project Week battled it out in the kitchen by experimenting with different spices. “I was looking forward to the Chopped challenge all week,” freshman Lee Whiston said.

Another particularly memorable moment for freshman Arden Brown was the competition inspired by Project Runway. “It was so fun to only be able to go to a certain store, and it was just fun to be independent and go out into the city,” she said.

Students were asked to create two spring-inspired outfits. The twist? They could buy materials from only one store, and conveniently, not many of these options supplied fabric. The winning team needed to work around this constraint by designing looks made from potato chip bags, Skittles wrappers, napkins, and tablecloths, bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase, “You are what you eat.”

On Friday, the Project Week leaders revealed that they had assigned the role of “Traitor” to several students, who were asked to interfere with their team’s path to success. Luckily for the students, a game inspired by Mafia brought an end to this deception. “The last time we ran this, ‘Traitors’ wasn’t on the air yet,” Ms. Landis said. “You can always refresh this [Project Week] and evolve by swapping out the shows.”

The week culminated in a challenge inspired by “America’s Got Talent” in which students learned that the key to Mr. van Benthuysen’s heart is a lip sync video to “Pitch Perfect,” complete with choreography from the movie. Students ended the competition by sharing a laugh with friends and enjoying their classmates’ videos, including tutorials for a burger sauce, impressive eight-ball victories on GamePigeon, and music videos to Katy Perry’s “Hot N Cold.”

Reflecting on his Project Week experience, Lee said, “You had a lot of time alone with your teams to get to know them, and you had a lot of time where you had to work with them to build something. It was just a lot of fun overall.”

“We can plan all we want, but the project can easily fall on its face if students aren’t enthusiastic and competitive, but also supportive of each other,” Mr. van Benthuysen said. “I’m glad to see that the students got so into it.”

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About the Contributor
Lucia Meno
Lucia Meno, Staff Writer
Lucia Meno (’26) is ecstatic for her first year on The Forum. She looks forward to covering stories that dive deeper into Latin-specific customs many might not think twice of, as well as major phenomena that occur at school. Through her writing, Lucia hopes that she can learn how to help improve certain aspects of the Roman community and educate her peers on how Latin ties into global events. Outside of working as a Staff Writer, she is a member of the varsity girls swim team and water polo team, and loves spending time cooking and with friends.

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