The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 8, 2012

Grand River Academy students team up while staff members go into hiding for manhunt

Star Beacon

AUSTINBURG TOWNSHIP — Tromping through the woods two by two, 76 students embarked on the latest adventure at Grand River Academy. The game was manhunt, the latest installation of the Intramural Games on campus this year. For two hours, the teachers and staff hid in the woods on campus. The weeks of anticipation from the students and staff culminated into potentially, the most exciting event of the fall term.

The Intramural Games is a first year program on campus, designed by the residential life committee, to bring a greater sense of community and camaraderie to the students and faculty. The eight teams, each captained by a senior, all incorporate American students, international students and faculty members. Each team receives points for participation and success in the biweekly competitions. For the purpose of manhunt, every faculty member in hiding had a different point value based on difficulty of their concealment. The point value of each faculty member was awarded to the team of the student who found them. Faculty hiding spots ranged in difficulty and creativity; some of which included the roofs of buildings, at the tops of trees, or on the ground in full camouflage.

Thomas Pollak, head dorm master and Ashtabula native, concealed himself in a full body, army style ghillie suit and remained unfound for the entire two hours of search.

“Any time people come together and experience membership of some sort of team, they gain life skills,” Pollak said. “As I was hiding I could hear the students gradually forming a holistic team atmosphere, which, as a dorm parent was fantastic for me to witness.”

“The manhunt game was a huge success,” said Christina Hartz, head of residential life. “For the first time in 100 years, our students got a half day of school off, to participate in the event. Our goal is to build community; so when the students and faculty have fun in the games, it is considered a huge success.”

The students seemed to enjoy the event even more than the hidden faculty members. The two hour break from classes provided not only a well needed reprieve from exams and assignments, but also a time for students to enjoy themselves in the gorgeous October weather.

J.B. Stackhouse, senior and captain of “Blue Steel,” the leading team in the games, said, “The intramural program provides a fun environment that motivates the students to think outside of the box and become actively involved in a wider range of activities. I think this adds one more way that students are able to learn life skills and critical thinking methods outside of the classroom that other schools cannot offer. The manhunt was a fun way of learning to overcome challenges as a team. ”

From the perspectives of both students and faculty, the Intramural Games have been a great success thus far. Every event further unifies the community, and injects excitement and competition into the atmosphere. Now, a few weeks past the manhunt, the teams are eager to face the next event.