Teacher Christine Donaldson’s third-period physics class may have been named champion of the first Kentwood High School Munch Madness food drive, but the real winners are the Maple Valley and Kent food banks.
Urged on by a little friendly competition, the student body at Kentwood collected 28,832 pounds of food during the month-long drive, shattering last year’s total of 8,600 pounds and nearly tripling this year’s original goal of 10,000 pounds.
“You guys have outdone yourself one more time,” leadership class teacher Kurt Phelps told the students as the winning class whooped and high-fived following the final weigh-in. “It’s amazing what a little competition will do.”
This year’s food drive was organized by the leadership class and led by Associated Student Body (ASB) president Kevin Massimino, who said the idea for a tournament-style contest was generated while at leadership camp last summer.
Massimino, a big sports fan, said he figured pitting 64 third-period classes – with the results tracked on a giant set of brackets at the school – would help the ASB reach its goal of 10,000 pounds of food. But even Massimino, 17, wasn’t prepared for the sheer quantity of food that was collected.
“I’m absolutely blown away,” he said after the totals were announced. “To raise 29,000 pounds of food in a month is beyond my biggest expectations. That’s more than 1,000 pounds a day.”
The students competed for the past month, with regular weigh-ins to determine which class would move to the next round. The two finalists were Donaldson’s class and teacher Karl Cortes’ class, with Donaldson coming out on top 2,307 pounds to 1,814 pounds.
The rules were simple: Gather non-perishable food. Because it was a weight-based competition, only six cases of water and six cases of rice were allowed from each class.
The winning class received a free lunch from the Golden Steer restaurant, and Donaldson immediately invited Cortes’ class to join her victorious group. The students weren’t competing for the prize, since there was no prize until the day before the final weigh-in. They were competing for bragging rights and simply to bring in food for the needy.
After the victory was announced, winning class member Karsten Wise said his classmates would gather spare change from students. Wise said he spent 25 hours over more than four days sitting in front of a QFC grocery store asking people to donate to the cause.
Spurred on by classmate Alexander Lee’s rallying cry of “It’s go time,” Wise said he was proud his class collected “all nourishing foods. Everybody’s donated.”
“The food drive showed how committed we are to service,” said ASB secretary Tim Pham, 18. “When we do anything, we go all out. That’s Kentwood.”
Principal Doug Hostetter agreed.
“When you set our students on a task or give them a goal, you know they’re going to meet it, if not exceed it,” he said.
“We have a pretty competitive school,” echoed Phelps, who said the amount of food that was collected is “a testament to our kids, especially at this time” of the year.
ASB officers say the Munch Madness bracket system for a food drive appears here to stay.
“This is a new tradition we are starting,” said vice president Kelsey Bradfield.