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Battle royale
RHHS students duke it out for Freeman Project
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RHHS students competed in a "Hunger Games" themed contest to raise funds for the Freeman Project. - photo by Photo by Caitlyn Boza

Richmond Hill High School Students took a page out of Suzanne Collins’ bestselling young adult novel “The Hunger Games” Thursday evening with a fundraiser for the Matthew Freeman Project: Pens and Paper for Peace.

Decked out in full costume, students and faculty members participated in a competition based on the novel and subsequent film. Twelve teams, representing the fictional districts portrayed in the franchise, vied for first place in a number of themed events, including an archery competition, dodge ball game, trivia and other contests based on the post-apocalyptic world created by Collins.

“As part of our Veterans Day celebrations, we wanted to do something fun for the kids and help raise money for the Freeman Project,” said event organizer and RHHS teacher Leslie Krull. “’The Hunger Games’ is really popular right now, so we thought people would appreciate that.”

More than 100 community members turned out to watch the 24 students, or “tributes,” go head-to-head. After an hour of competition, seniors Devin Collazo and Ashley Knoch emerged the victors.

“We had a lot of fun. We prepared for like two weeks. We watched the movie and made our own costumes,” said Collazo. “It felt great to win, and it’s really cool that we managed to beat out the football and basketball players.”

Hannah Yontz, a 12-year-old fan of “The Hunger Games” who attended the event, said the students did a good job of incorporating the plot into the competition.

“I totally loved how they had the tributes come in on chariots,” said Yontz, who dressed as the story’s protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, for Halloween. “It’s a lot like the movie, and the games look really fun.”

Each spectator paid $5 for admission to the competition. All funds raised will benefit the Freeman Project, a non-profit organization that collects school supplies for children in war-torn countries in the name of fallen Marine Capt. Matthew Freeman.

Lisa Freeman, Freeman Project founder and former teacher to many of the RHHS students competing, addressed the tributes and the audience.

“This school has been very supportive of the project, and we’re so appreciative for all the supplies you’ve donated and all the money you’ve raised,” she told them. “The funds raised by the students tonight will help benefit the new scholarship we’ve created for siblings of fallen soldiers.”

The next Freeman Project fundraisers will be the Arts on the Coast Fall Show, which runs Nov. 9-11, and the Capt. Matthew Freeman 5K Run for Peace on Nov. 12. For more information, visit

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