April 10, 2013. The Bethel Elementary Blue team has won the elementary grades title and the Valle Crucis Elementary Red team has won the middle school championship in the Watauga County Schools Battle of the Books competitions for 2013. Both teams now go on to represent the Watauga County Schools in regional Battle of the Books competition later this month, with the Bethel team headed to Hickory and the Valle Crucis team to Statesville.
Bethel has the smallest enrollment in the Watauga County Schools System but they are no stranger to winning honors in the local school system. Their middle school team has won the Battle of the Books the last two years in a row and their victory in the elementary grades contest this year makes this the third consecutive year that a Bethel team has won one of the two competitions. Bethel also boasts the current NC Teacher of the Year in Darcy Grimes and has produced two of the last three Spelling Bee champions, including sixth grader Alyssa DiBella for 2012-13.
Valle Crucis is home to current WCS Teacher of the Year Katie Matthews in addition to being middle school Battle of the Books champion.
Bethel’s winning Battle of the Books team was coached by the school’s Media Specialist and Technology Facilitator Mitzi London. London praised the work of her team and the backing it receives from colleagues and parents at Bethel. “We continue to have strong teacher and staff support and our parents are extremely supportive as well. Oh, and our students are incredible! I feel blessed to be a part of this Bethel learning community.”
Valle Crucis Media Specialist Wendy Nicholson coached her school’s middle school team with assistance from fifth grade teacher Mary Ruth Hagaman. Like London, Nicholson complimented her team’s effort and was grateful for the support students received from teachers and parents. “We are really fortunate that Valle Crucis students have such committed parents and faculty to encourage their best efforts, and we see that commitment reflected in what our students achieve. Our team has done an excellent job and I am very proud of their work.”
In the elementary grades competition, the Green Valley Gold team narrowly won second place with 240 points, just ahead of the Hardin Park Electric team with 238 points. In the middle school contest, the Valle Crucis champions compiled 216 points, slightly more than the 210 points awarded to the Hardin Park Maroon team, followed by the Cove Creek Burgundy team with 194 points.
A total of 15 teams participated in Battle of the Books for grades 4-5 and 13 teams participated in grades 6-8. Each team plays every other team once in each competition, and each round consists of 12 questions posed to each team. The questions ask students to identify “in which book” a specific scene, event, or character appears. Points are scored by correctly naming the title and author of the book, and the winning team is determined on the basis of total points scored in all rounds combined.
Battle of the Books competitions rely on a team effort in the schools and a strong network of community support, all of which is coordinated by Hardin Park Media Specialist Candice Trexler. She is supported in her efforts by teachers and school media specialists from the participating schools and by approximately 65 volunteers for the two Battle of the Books competitions. The ranks of the volunteers are filled by dozens of parents, current and retired school system employees, and other community volunteers that help out as moderators, timekeepers, scorekeepers, and judges.
“Battle of the Books truly cannot happen without volunteers,” Trexler said. “They are an integral part of the competition and we are very grateful for all that they do.”
Trexler also noted that Community support for Battle of the Books extends beyond the time contributed by volunteers. The Watauga Education Foundation provided a grant of $1,000 to help out with program expenses and Mount Vernon Baptist Church generously donates the use of its classrooms and gym to host both the elementary and middle school competitions.
Battle of the Books is a reading incentive program available locally to students in grades 4 through 8. The books selected for the program are a mix of classics and new favorites in a wide variety of literary genres. This year’s reading list for Battle of the Books includes 17 titles for elementary grade students and 27 for middle school teams. Trexler praises the program as a valuable asset in encouraging students to read, stating that “Battle of the Books is an opportunity for students to participate in a competitive atmosphere while enhancing their reading skills, enjoying quality literature, and being part of a team environment.”
Persons or organizations interested in supporting Battle of the Books can contact Candice Trexler at Hardin Park School, 264-8481. Additional information about Battle of the Books, including the list of books for this year and next, is available online at www.ncslma.org/book-competitions.html.