Dream MTV job turns WW woman into ‘Hunger Games' tribute

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This is about a local girl who's gone off to the Big Apple for great adventures, but first some background: The wildly popular, dramatic, high-action book and subsequent film, "The Hunger Games" deals with starvation, abject poverty and how war affects the citizens in the 12 districts of Panem.

This new nation grew out of a post-apocalyptic event that destroyed North America. For 74 years the country has pitted two dozen 12- to 18-year-old "tributes" against one another in a days-long fight to the death, taking a boy and girl from each of the districts. Just one victor is allowed.

Into this brutal mess comes Katness Everdeen, 16, who volunteers to take the place of her younger sister. To keep her mother and sister alive, Katness becomes a hunter, skilled in outdoor survival and a sharpshooter with her bow and arrows.

Surviving "The Hunger Games" requires discipline, killer instinct and extreme fitness. And this is where 2004 Meadow Brook Intermediate School graduate Amy Wilkinson fits in the mix.

She is currently blog editor for Hollywood Crush, billed as "Young Hollywood. Served Fresh." at MTV Networks and friend of Movies Blog. See hollywoodcrush.mtv.com/

A release describes Amy as having what it takes, plus a "willingness to thoroughly embarrass herself on camera for all the Internet to see."

Amy recently participated in New York Sports Club's new Train Like a Tribute workout, inspired by the events of "The Hunger Games." You can hear her commentary and watch as she completes the grueling circuit at tinyurl.com/cfawxhk.

"Honestly, I'm about as native as it gets," Amy emailed of her Walla Walla roots. She graduated in 2000 from Walla Walla Valley Academy and in 2004 from Walla Walla University.

"Before I transferred to private school I was even part of the Berney Elementary/Class of 2000 feature the U-B used to run. I think my mom still has a newspaper clipping of little Amy pegged to a bulletin board in her kitchen."

At 24 she went to graduate school at Northwestern University in Illinois. Amy's worked at MTV News for more than 11/2 years at its Hollywood Crush blog, an entertainment site for teens/young adults - "hence, my love of ‘The Hunger Games.'

Based out of New York City, Amy's mostly stationed at a computer watching for breaking news and writing/editing posts. "But the highlight of my job is definitely when I get to meet and interview the celebrities I used to only read about in my mom's People magazines.

"Let's just say, I nearly peed my pants when I got to talk to Ryan Gosling on a red carpet last year. MTV News has a really creative, collaborative environment too, which makes my job a joy. It's not every media outlet that will let you run around on camera, shooting a fake bow and dodging ‘Tracker Jackers'" ala "The Hunger Games."

Amy's parents, Teresa Wilkinson and Dave Wilkinson reside in Walla Walla.

More than 620 Walla Walla County youngsters are poised to dig into Arbor Day as Fourth-Grade Foresters. They'll get to roll up their sleeves and plant trees on April 11.

The project's goal is to revitalize a remarkable idea-observation of Arbor Day in America's schools, said Marguerite Daltoso with the Walla Walla County Conservation District, which is sponsoring the event.

Students from Berney, Blue Ridge, Assumption, Edison, Green Park, Rogers Adventist, Sharpstein, Waitsburg, Prescott, Touchet and Dixie elementary schools will receive trees to take home and plant.

"This is one way we can share the message of our mission with students and their families to help youth build citizenship values and respect for the environment," Marguerite said in a release.

More than 3.5 million fourth-graders in the United States "can begin to plant a forest of their own, a forest that will benefit everyone for generations to come."

The project motto is "Leave a Legacy, Plant a Tree." Funding for the individually packaged evergreen trees is funded by the Walla Walla County Conservation District, sparing students, teachers, schools and taxpayers from any expense.

Fourth graders receive a 12-to 18-inch evergreen tree seedling packaged by workers with disabilities, Marguerite said. "Planting trees is a simple, inexpensive and easy way to improve the community."

Assumption School Book Club delved into Edward Bloor's debut novel, "Tangerine," said Carrine Leahy, DeSales Home and School Special Projects Committee member, in a Walla Walla Catholic Schools Weekly News report.

"Members really enjoyed the book and our discussions were quite involved. The teachers and students shared their thoughts openly. The discussions, disagreements and predictions were a joy to witness from my perspective.

"Actually, student/teacher roles melted away and we all became individuals who were reading a fabulous book and enjoyed discussing it," Carrine said.

Bloor's story was published in 2007, written for fifth-graders and up. It's the story of a legally blind seventh-grader whose parents constantly praise his malevolent, older, athletic star brother. But something terribly wrong is being covered up. The family moves to weird Tangerine, Fla., where lightning strikes daily at the same time; a sinkhole swallows a local school; and geeky Paul joins the ber-tough soccer team at his middle school.

The multi-layered plot with its unexpected twists and witty dialogue sparked great discussions for book club participants, Carrine said.

"I truly believe that it was valuable for the students to watch the teachers having the same experiences as they were having while reading - we were all making predictions, connecting with the characters, posing questions, and asking for clarifications," she said.

One review at amazon.com said, the "The writing is so fine, the story so triumphant, that you just might stand up and shout when you get to the end."

Another reviewer added that "‘Tangerine' is one of the greatest children's books to be written in the last 10 years. It is brilliant, socially conscious, filled to the brim with sympathetic (and uniquely unsympathetic) characters and funny to boot. The highest praise I can offer ‘Tangerine' is this: Long after I finished a chapter or two I would find myself puzzling over the multiple meanings and layers of the text. Whole sentences and ideas kept popping up to be reread and regurgitated. If you want a children's book that will make you think about a host of different ideas and points of view, read ‘Tangerine.'

The book club, which meets during lunch on Fridays, planned to launch into a new book after spring break.

Milton-Freewater Brownie Girl Scout Troop 51422 decided to feed the poor recently, said their leader, Tifanie Ocampo in a release.

The 18 active members who are in second through fourth grades, collected food to donate to the local food bank. At one meeting, the Scouts made door hangers to leave on door knobs of various houses throughout the neighborhood. The door hangers told recipients who the Scouts are, what they're looking for, when they would return and thanked them for their support.

On March 17, divided into five groups, they canvassed different neighborhoods to leave 180 door hangers. On March 26 they collected the donations left on porches with their flyers attached.

Delivery of the donated goods was made March 29 at Valley Cupboard in Milton-Freewater. Altogether, they collected 130 pounds of food, Tifanie said.

"This activity is a wonderful experience for our girls to give back to their community, to work hard for others and to learn how the actions of just a few girls can make such a great impact on their community. I am pretty proud of my girls," she said.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or 526-8313.

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