Middle School | Gr. 6-8
Student Leadership

Middle School’s Minute to Win It Challenge Brings the Fun While Building Community

Severn Middle School held its annual Minute to Win It challenge the week of January 22, and the spirited competition did not disappoint.
Students competed by grade in a total of ten unique challenges that come straight from the popular game show Minute to Win It. As the name suggests, these contests generally must be completed in 1 minute. In select cases, teams had more than a minute to earn points – usually if no team could complete it within the time cap. Teams were formed by advisory, with one or two students competing at a time against the other advisories in their grade.

This year's challenging lineup included Dental Cap, Pong to the 5th, Field Goal, Go the Distance, Johnny Applestack, Cuppaccino, Walrus, Bridge the Gap, Breakfast Scramble, and Temper Tantrum. Behind the clever names are contests that required students to stack apples, move a marshmallow using only coffee stirrers held in one’s mouth, put together a breakfast cereal puzzle, send a ping pong ball down a measuring tape and into a tiny cup at progressively longer distances, move two toothbrushes into a cup at the other end of a table by balancing them on the brim of a baseball cap, and more.

The 2024 winners by grade were the Etchison/Ford Advisory (sixth grade), the Foard/Smith Advisory (seventh grade), and the Josey Advisory (eighth grade). The only prize is bragging rights, which, according to Kathleen Donovan, Middle School Dean of Students, helps to keep the competition friendly.

This is the fifth year for this fun competition, which began as a way to further build community in the middle school. “We wanted to plan something that was really fun and that everyone could get involved in,” said Donovan, who has been the event’s lead organizer since that first run in 2020.

While that event – according to Donovan – didn’t go especially well, there was enough there to continue the tradition. “When I think back on that first year, I have to laugh,” she said. “We held it in the gym, so we had no sound system and no tech; it was completely noisy and chaotic; it ran late, and everyone was stressed out!
“But even then, we still liked the idea and felt like we had something that could work – as long as we restructured it a bit,” she added.

Since that first swing, Minute to Win It has moved into Price, where they use the sound system and utilize the tech to show a brief video explainer of each contest before the students come to the stage. Students sit by advisory, and only the contestant(s) come to the stage. Students in the audience help count down to the start of the contest and cheer on their teammates.

Now, the biggest struggle each year involves the lineup of challenges and whether or not students can complete them in time. Some have proven more difficult than others, which generally doesn't reveal itself until the competition begins. For example, two challenges this year – Dental Cap and Walrus – were each only completed by one student.

At the end of the event, the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st place advisory teams are announced and cheered.

Donovan looks for ways to tweak the event every year while still working strategically to choose contests that work within the space and budget allocated. But with five years of experience and 55 different challenges completed, it’s safe to say that Minute to Win It has become a staple of the middle school experience.

“You don’t always get direct feedback in real-time with these initiatives, but I was setting up for it this year, and some Upper School students were standing around. I overheard them reliving their Minute to Win It experience, which validated the value of these events," said Donovan. “It’s something unique to us that sticks with the kids in a positive way.”

Lower School

Upper School