Partner Quizzes? Or the Hunger Games?


Keenan Schember

Anna von Kampen expresses her disgust with her incapable randomly selected calculus partner: Jimmy Youngblut.

We’ve all been there. Whether the class is precalculus, world religions, or freshman physical education, we have all experienced the fabled partner quiz. The announcement for this is almost always followed by a raised hand, a name called, and someone saying, “can we choose our partners?” There is an audible silence as everyone holds their breath. Then, shattering dreams and fueling nightmares, the teacher responds with a “no.” Simultaneously, every student erupts into their various coping mechanisms and five stages of grief. Some kids choose to compute the probability they will get the smart kid as their partner, others will attempt to woo the teacher with the promise of cookies or lunch for a week. Then, finally, there are the few, the sad, sad few, that choose to sit in the corner and rock back and forth, waiting for their inevitable failure, while attempting to memorize the crucial formulas.

Would you choose Jimmy Youngblut as your partner quiz partner?

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Whether teachers realize it or not, the creation of a “random” partner quiz forges a wide spread frenzy akin to the reaping in the Hunger Games Trilogy. Sure, it may lack the pizazz and pompous flavor that only an international ceremony can provide, but the stress levels are the exact same. Your grade is essentially going into the Games, and whether you make it out alive depends on your fellow tributes.

The vehicle of randomization doesn’t help me either. A randomizer website, deck of cards, and even calculators are all secretly scheming to undermine those students who, like me, just need a leg up in their eternal struggle, which is compounded through missing class, not paying attention or just moving at a slower pace than the general population. Every time I’m scheduled to take a partner test, these spiteful machines rig the system to take me down and watch my world collapse.

Would Jimmy Youngblut choose YOU as a partner quiz partner?

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There are exceptions. Exceptions that exclude me in every instance. There always is some miracle: a person, partnered with someone who frequently sleeps, that gets the coveted A. That is a fantasy. There is also the much more common instance in which the children of Al- bert Einstein become partners just so they can gloat over their brilliance and make the teacher angry in their condescension and sarcastic answers, because they don’t need an A. After the test, without fail, the kid partnered the daughter or son of Athena is prized, envied, idolized, and loved. They are essentially a champion; they won the Hunger Games. They allied themselves with the proper tribute. All the while I, along with the people from district twelve, sit in the cold.

We small peasant farmers from District Twelve only ask to allow our own choices in this constant reaping throughout our careers in high school. We’re just trying to scrape by a living, by illegally poaching rabbits and selling them in the hob; deep down in our hearts, we all just need some burnt bread from the world’s most ironically named baker’s son (Peeta, you know like the bread?).