For the first time in an online format, Watauga County School’s best readers met earlier this month to test their skills at the district-wide Battle of the Books competition. Valle Crucis took home the win in the elementary contest, while Parkway edged out the competition at the middle school event.
Parkway’s team was coached by School Librarian Owen Gray and Jess Palmer. The Valle Crucis group was led by Valle Crucis librarian Jane Brown.
A long-standing tradition in Watauga County Schools, each year Battle of the Books tasks teams from each school in the district to a competition that tests students ability to recall specific details and answer questions on books from a state promoted list they’ve read over the past year. Each team plays every other team once in the competition and each round consists of 12 questions — six posed to each team.
The questions require students to identify the book in which a specific scene, event, quote or character appears. If a team provides the correct title and author of the book, they are awarded three points. If they miss, the other team has one chance to answer the question and can win two points for a correct title response. The winning team is determined on the basis of total points scored in all rounds combined.
Watauga County Schools Battle of the Books coordinator and Hardin Park Librarian Candice Trexler said students who took part in Battle of the Books this year had the opportunity to engage with a wide variety of literature while overcoming the challenges of holding the contest online.
Trexler said the district was able to hold Battle of the Books thanks to the hard work of teachers and volunteers.
“Because of our current schedule and safety restrictions over the year, we had to shift from an in-person competition to a virtual competition. We were able to use Google Meets in place of our competition rooms. Our schedule allowed for every team to play just as normally would in an in-person competition,” Trexler said.
Trexler said the students adapted easily to the new format thanks to their experience with remote learning over the past months.
“We are always thankful to the many volunteers that help make the competition run smoothly by serving as moderators, judges, timekeepers, and scorekeepers. We’re also thankful for the continued support of the Watauga Education Foundation and other support from our community for the Battle of the Books program in Watauga County Schools.”
Trexler said Battle of the Books was about more than just the competition. She said students who take part have the chance to read and engage with books they wouldn’t ordinarily see as part of their classes.
“Battle of the Books allows students to work as a team, compete in an academic competition all while enjoying reading high-quality literature,” Trexler said. “Students enjoy the competitive atmosphere, working with teammates across grade levels, and showcasing their knowledge of the books.”
Parkway’s winning team consisted of Sarah Thompson, Coach Owen Gray, Edie Berke, Grace Young, Coach Jess Palmer, Charlie Stumb and Jonathan Botello.
Valle Crucis’ winning team was made up of Leoria Davenport, Cooper Riley, Olivia Smith, Logan Lail, Liam Lanham, Ayla Crawley and Vivian Vallecillo.
Battle of the Books is made possible by a $2,000 grant from the Watauga Education Foundation that is divided equally between all nine schools. The funds are used to purchase books found on the North Carolina School Library Media Association Battle of the Books elementary, middle, and high school lists each year.
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