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Newberg wins latest iteration of 'Rex Hill Rivalry' by collecting more items for holiday supply drive

When Newberg High School's Associated Student Body (ASB) students challenged their counterparts at Sherwood High School to a relay race during halftime of a fall football game, Mark Brown's leadership students admit that they stacked the deck a little bit in their own favor in how they set up the competition. SETH GORDON - Associated Student Body students from Newberg High School collect food donations during the Rex Hill Rivalry contest.

The whole idea was that Newberg could expect to receive a challenge in return and the ensuing back-and-forth over the course of the year would be friendly way to foster what the schools are deeming the Rex Hill Rivalry.

Newberg's ASB students fully expected Sherwood to return the favor with a challenge in which the Bowmen would be the favorites and that sure seemed to be the case when they invited the Tigers to join in their annual holiday canned food drive shortly after Thanksgiving. Not only are Sherwood's students well organized after years of hosting the drive, which has been known to fill up moving trucks with donations, they also gave Newberg's ASB team a limited time to plan their own efforts.

Despite the perhaps built-in disadvantages, Newberg won the competition, gathering just over 7,000 items compared to Sherwood's 6,005.

"It's just cool because everyone in the school came together and made it happen," Newberg sophomore Stella Byles said. "No one really saw it coming that everyone was going to get so into it, but they did."

All the donations -- from non-perishable food items, personal hygiene items to new or gently-used clothing -- collected at NHS have been donated to the school's resource room, which has also received a lot of support from parents, teachers, businesses and local nonprofits since opening in September.

"I shouldn't be amazed because were constantly doing amazing stuff like this, but once again, I think we as a community are stepping up," Brown said. "I think there are people who are just looking to get involved. This is a great way that everyone in the community, whether you're a parent, a community member, whether you have a connection to the high school or not, can rally behind our kids."

This effort in particular, though, was a chance for the students to demonstrate their commitment to the resource room and the level of pride revealed even surprised some of the leadership students themselves.

"I'm really impressed by how the students are participating and how much care they have for this stuff," said Valeria Cosgrove, a student rep to the school board, at the Dec. 12 board meeting. At that point, Newberg hadn't even won, but was leading two days into the competition.

Newberg could claim a much higher total after receiving a large cash donation at the end of the week, but chose not to.

"But we didn't even need it," Byles said. "We did it on our own."

Newberg's leadership students also organized an internal competition at their school to spur participation, as third-period classes and their teachers vied to bring in the most donations. The effort was combined with Spirit Week so that dressing up earned classes extra points, especially if the teacher got in on the act. Bonus points, which did not count in the competition, were also given for certain items on each day. In the end, Brandon Ramey's P.E. class came out on top.

"Had they not invited us, we probably wouldn't have done anything because it wasn't on our radar, so I'm thankful to Sherwood that they did this because Newberg has stepped up," Brown said. "We didn't know how much to expect, being our first time doing this type of competition or this type of effort."

And although the idea of the supply drive is that everyone wins because the competition spurs more donations, the Sherwood ASB students will have to come down Rex Hill to NHS and receive pies to the face as punishment for losing. Newberg will also retain the trophy that was created for the rivalry, though at least a few more challenges are expected in the coming months.

"They were very confident that we would be going there and that started getting us motivated and pumped up," senior Ashley Korb-Doty said. "We felt like we had to prove them wrong. We did really good."

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