The Brains Behind Paranoia 2022: Sophie Huddleston


Louise Brickman, Editor in Chief

Whether you have heard of the insane “kill” stories or seen the neon Nerf bullets around town or in the streets, one thing you can conclude is that Paranoia season is back. 

A tradition typically carried on by the seniors, but not affiliated with the school, Paranoia is basically a big Nerf war between different teams.  At first glance, you may think organizing the event would be simple and easy, but oh you are so wrong. It wasn’t until I was a participant in this game that I knew all of the hard work, rules, restrictions, and drama that feeds into the game.

Senior Sophie Huddlestun decided to step up this year and be the Paranoia spokesperson for organizing the game. Knowing that it would be a “logistical nightmare” she wanted to test her organizational skills and make this year’s Paranoia a success. 

“Whoever is coordinating the whole thing has to have the discipline to enforce the rules and keep everything in check to make sure we can keep playing,” Huddlestun said. 

Principal Erin Lenart sent an email to students and parents expressing “serious concern” about the safety of Paranoia. She wrote that she was worried someone might get hurt. “While I know that these are not school-related or associated activities, I feel compelled to reach out and encourage parents to discuss these games with their students as well as the potentially serious consequences for participating.”

Huddlestun has added additional rules this year to try and keep it safe. She said she did extensive research on the rules of Paranoia to make sure things don’t get too out of hand.

“There are a lot of other high schools that have put websites out there with all of their rules and brackets so I used those for inspiration. I also got a copy of the rules last year’s LFHS seniors used,” Huddlestun said. 

She even dug a little deeper. “On top of that, two of my friends have parents who are lawyers and they looked everything over for me to make sure everything was sound,” she said. 

However, the rules are also subject to change as the game progresses. Teams have been super transparent, so if something isn’t working and the rules need a little switch, Huddlestun’s been on it. The pages of intricate restrictions may seem frustrating at times, but she stressed that safety is the most important objective.

Huddlestun is super thrilled with how the game has played  out so far. 

“This game is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do which is bring people together and make fun memories. Paranoia is a long-standing tradition in our community, and as the Class of 2022, we have missed out on many high school traditions because of the pandemic. This game gives us the sense of camaraderie that we have missed in isolation,” she said.

One thing I’m sure she didn’t think about was all of the notifications with disputes, complaints, or questions about the high stakes nerf war. With a busy schedule, this added stress definitely adds more to her plate, but she definitely does not regret taking on this role as coordinator.

“It’s been really fun getting the inside scoop on everyone’s teams and seeing how the whole thing plays out,” Huddlestun said. 

Besides bragging rights, this year there is something else motivating all the players: a prize for the winning team. This definitely sparked some competitiveness right off the bat the first week. Teams went full cutthroat, making alliances with opponents’ siblings, trapping people to stay in their cars, analyzing “kill” videos in slow motion to see if the bullet made contact with the person. 

“At first, people were definitely taking the game way too seriously. But after the first week, everything was going way more smoothly,” she said. “I think people realized that, even though there’s a huge cash prize up for grabs, it’s still just a game that’s meant to be fun.”

Being a part of a team herself, Huddlestun has seen her fair share of funny moments. 

“Last week, Natalie Miller was trying to shoot Lindsay and Kenz Fontana so she was hiding in their bush. Their mom got home and got out of the car and, mistaking her for one of her daughters, Natalie nailed her square in the back with the Nerf gun bullet. That was a big laugh for both parties,” Huddlestun said.