Behind the scenes of Senior Survivor


Instructor Lindsay Walcott

Emily Book, Sidney Hogan, and McKenzy Hogan making the Senior Survivor logo.

Emily Book and Sidney Hogan

Armed with bowls of cereal and fueled by Family Fare sushi, the production team of 2022 Senior Survivor was ready for the long night ahead of them. Third hour’s Advanced Broadcasting class was in charge of producing every show. That involved filming, cutting and editing footage, decorating sets, writing scripts, and uploading a video every night for the entire week of Senior Survivor. Student Senate is also heavily involved in the production of Senior Survivor by setting up games, counting money, making sure the Survivors are to their destinations, and more. Every group involved has surprising responsibilities that make a great program.

WOBN Production Team:

   So much goes on behind the scenes to create the show West Ottawa knows and loves. Preparations begin months before the first show airs. The selection process for choosing Survivors occurs weeks before the beginning of the games. Instructor Lindsay Walcott also chooses the Senior Survivor directors early on who then run auditions for the hosts. This year, the directors were seniors Jack O’Brien and Jackson Field. “It’s really different seeing Survivor from the producing side. You always have to stay on time and get the games done in time so you have time to go edit it and then get ready for the next game,” Field said. 

   Survivor runs on a tight schedule. Before each show, Field and O’Brien would lay out the plan for the night for the production team to see. Every hour included a game, confessionals, elimination ceremony, dinner, and time for editing. In the past, the directors have been there later than 10 pm, but this year, with a tight schedule and a hard-working production team, everyone was home by 10 pm at the latest.

Student Senate:

   Senior Survivor wouldn’t be the same without all of Student Senate’s hard work; they are the backbone of Survivor. Senate plans for the single week months in advance. “Planning for Survivor takes a lot of people and even more time. We start by splitting up into 5 committees: food, fundraising, games, assembly, and logistics,” Sr. Dylan Markovic, Executive Chair, said. 

    The food team is in charge of getting all the meals and snacks ready for the Survivors. Games come up with ideas and rules for the games Survivors play and make sure everything runs smoothly. 

   Logistics gets chaperones for after school and for spending the night with the Survivors. They make sure that everything runs smoothly and according to plan. Then, there’s Instructor Kevin Klassen and Instructor Catherine Engel, the advisors of Student Senate. Both teachers help with all things Survivor, but Klassen counts all the money that the Survivors accumulate. “There’s a lot that goes into it before the week of Senior Survivor, but that week is pretty stressful as well. This year was my first year taking on that role. There is a lot of money to count every day and it has to be counted multiple times,” Klassen said.

   Money has to be counted accurately every night so the right Survivors can be eliminated. Multiple people, including Student Senate members, help count the money and make sure cash prizes are awarded to the correct Survivors. “This year, I don’t know if there was a single day where we had counting done before the first game of the night. After, I rushed down to catch the end of the game so I could award prize money correctly and figure out who was going to be eliminated that night so the hosts could write that information into their script for the ceremony,” Klassen said. Everything runs on a super tight schedule on Survivor nights, so one fault from one person can mess up or delay everything.


   Sure everyone sees how the Survivors’ weeks progress from the daily Senior Survivor episodes, but does everyone really know all that the Survivors do? Survivors buy the items they sell to WO students themselves. Lots of budgeting is involved to make sure they make a good profit and that they’re selling desirable items. Each Survivor chooses a price for their shirt as well. Senior Survivors are not allowed to bring an air mattress of any kind, which leads to some creative ideas for ideal comfort. Sr. Abby Hogan chose to sleep on a yoga mat and a few blankets. “Sleeping on a yoga mat felt exactly how it sounds. It was thin and mostly served as protection from the itchy LGI carpet. 3/10 would not recommend,” Hogan said.

   Though being a Senior Survivor can be an exhausting experience, it’s also one of the most rewarding events seniors can be a part of. “I love being able to directly help our own school community in such a fun way. I definitely won’t forget my experience as a Senior Survivor,” Hogan said. 

Every group involved in Senior Survivor is essential to the show’s success. Without the help of teachers and students to do the behind the scenes jobs, the program wouldn’t be as well-known. Students at West Ottawa are fortunate to have the opportunity to be a part of an influential program.