The 10-year-anniversary of the LCPS Elementary Battle of the Books proved to be golden for the team from Southwood Elementary School, which pulled away in the final rounds of the competition Friday to claim a trophy that for the last few years had been so near, yet so far.
“We placed every year, but we had not won,” Southwood librarian Gail Outlaw said of the four years she, fifth-grade teacher Lisa Jones and digital learning specialist Angie Jarman have coached the team. “We’ve been there knocking on the door, and today we finally broke through.”
Southwood’s team of two fourth graders and two fifth graders – the team with the fewest members – posted 145 points in the win. Moss Hill Elementary finished second with 135 points, and Banks Elementary and Northwest Elementary tied for third with 134 points. Pink Hill Elementary finished fourth with 121 points.
The Battle of the Books tests students’ knowledge of books from a common reading list of 15 titles through questions related to content. Teams of fourth and fifth graders from all nine elementary schools in the district competed in a round-robin format.
“The purpose is to encourage reading, encourage collaboration in talking about books and building literacy skills,” Charles White, the district’s interim director of media and technology, said. “Twenty-five percent of the books are above (fifth-grade) level, 25 percent are below grade level and 50 percent are at grade level, and that encourages students of all ranges to be a part of the team.”
White originated the event in the district and remembered the first battle drew four teams. “Now 10 years later we have every school in the county participating,” he said.
And competing fiercely. Second and third places in the 2018 contest were not decided until the final round, White said, and scorekeepers recorded “at least” 45 lead changes during the morning-long competition, held at Tanglewood Church.
As the district winner, Southwood will represent LCPS in the regional Elementary Battle of the Books in New Bern on April 27.
Southwood coaches began putting their team together in September – setting deadlines for finishing each book on the reading list – and began after-school practices in February. “They had to show they were willing to do the work,” Jones said. “We made them go back and re-read and practice, practice, practice.”
Along with coaches Outlaw, Jones and Jarman, members of the winning Southwood team are Islynd Shirey, Mason Jones, Michael Mozingo and Riley Hoover.
Members of the second-place Moss Hill team were Braden Barnett, Evelyn Castro Ortiz, Hayden Cauley, Josue Garcia-Lopez, Lesley Baltazar-Galan, Rachel Noble, Taryn Barnett and coaches Melissa Small and Jodi Stocks.
Members of the Bank teams that tied for third were Adrian Vega-Cantarero, Amiyah Best, Caroline Wimbush, Gloria Viveros, Heaven Owens, Melinda Wimbush, Sammy Todd, Spencer Roller, Sydney Jeffreys, Zah’ria Brown and coaches Ashley Hood and Brittany Laur.
Members of the Northwest team that tied for third were Brooke Echiverria, Lesley Wiggins, Makayla Dixon, Montana Barrett, Sienna Stallings, Zaquiria Howard and coach Janis Skoczylas.
Members of the fourth-place Pink Hill team were Adrian Davalos, Alicia Gonzalez-Gutierrez, Brenden Gray, Emioly Brown, Hayden Tyndall, Jack Whitfield, Joselin Flores, Lovia Valdivia-Tucker, Skylar Pope and coaches Myra Aycock and Kelly Bluhm.