Hardin Park School has won the middle school championship in the regional Battle of the Books, the first time that a Watauga County Schools team has won at that level. The regional competition featured 18 school system winners from across Region 7, an area that includes 14 counties in northwestern NC.
Members of the championship team include Bryant Hou, Carsyn Howarth, Lucy Rapfogel, Gabe Souza, Ethan Turner, and Li Yan. The team, which is coached by Hardin Park Media Coordinators Amy Hiatt and Candice Trexler, will travel to Greensboro May 15th to compete for the state championship against winners from the other seven regions in NC.
The Hardin Park team first distinguished itself in winning the local competition last month, where it posted a record high score and notched the first perfect round ever achieved in that contest. They were again impressive in winning this week’s regional competition by a sizable 14 point margin, beating out the team from a Pilot Mountain school that has won the regional middle school championship three of the past five years. That achievement is even more remarkable considering that only one member of the team is an eighth grader and that two members are in their first year of Battle of the Books.
Trexler said the team missed very few questions at the regional competition and “we were proud of them even on the ones they missed. When that happened, the other team nearly always missed it as well, which tells us the question may not have asked about something very distinctive, and that almost no one would recall that particular detail from the book.”
It goes without saying that this is a bright group of students, but Hiatt said it was the team’s hard work and focus that fueled their success. “They are very self-motivated,” she remarked. “We’ve certainly had other teams that worked hard, but I think this is the first group that’s been so consistent about their efforts. They’ve been coming to us to get practice questions on a regular basis and most of the team has worked together every day at lunch since January.”
“They really have worked hard and are so excited about how far they’ve come,” added Trexler. “Mrs. Hiatt and I are their supporters and cheerleaders, but they are the ones that do all the work.”
For Battle of the Books competitions, teams are asked questions about books that all teams have read – or at least had access to – over the months preceding the competition. The book list for middle school includes 27 titles, all in the general category of fiction. In each round, teams are asked questions about “in which book” a specific scene, event, or character appears. Each question is initially addressed to one team and if that team provides the correct title and author of the book, they are awarded three points. If they miss, the other team is given a chance to answer the question and win two points for a correct response. Each team plays every other team once in the competition and the winning team is determined on the basis of total points scored in all rounds combined.
Trexler said the success in regional competition made this a good time to again thank the Watauga Education Foundation for their continued support of Battle of the Books in the Watauga County Schools. The Foundation provided a grant of $2,000 that was essential in helping pay for books and for travel to the regional competition. The community is encouraged to support the Foundation’s work by attending the Shooting Stars student talent show at the Schaefer Center at ASU next Friday, April 24. Shooting Stars is the Foundation’s major fundraising event each year.
Persons or organizations interested in contributing to Battle of the Books can also contact Trexler at Hardin Park School, 264-8481.