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Woodington wins Middle School Battle of the Books. Again.

A team of readers from Woodington Middle School won four of its six head-to-head matchups with teams from LCPS’s three other middle schools to earn another first-place finish in the district’s annual Middle School Battle of the Books.

The win was Woodington’s ninth in the last 11 contests, but the first for second-year coach Missy Perritt, the school’s media coordinator. Last year, Woodington finished second.

“I came in last year and I didn’t know about the tradition (of winning),” Perritt said after Wednesday’s contest. “They didn’t tell me about that – until after I lost. This year, I felt that pressure and I really pushed the team. I was hoping they would do well and I knew they could do well and they did well.”

The team from EB Frink Middle School finished second, a mere 11 points behind Woodington. Contentnea-Savannah K-8 came in third and Rochelle Middle finished fourth.

 Two rows of 10 students and two adults in gold T shirts pose for photo.“I am so proud of the hard work of our middle school students and Battle of the Books coaches,” Christel Carlyle, the district’s director of middle school education and local contest organizer, said. “Many people may not realize just how intense the competition is, but seeing the intensity of the competition first hand is a reminder of just how talented and dynamic our young people are. This competition showcases their hard work and gives them an opportunity to shine in an area that they enjoy: reading good books.”

As the county winner, Woodington’s team will represent LCPS in the regional Battle of the Books, a virtual competition scheduled for March 22. 

Each year, the Battle of the Books tests students’ knowledge of books from a common reading list of more than 20 fiction and nonfiction titles through questions related to content. Teams compete in a round-robin format.

This year’s event was held in the auditorium of Northwest Elementary School. Sara Levin, media coordinator at Kinston High School, was moderator.

Perritt and co-coach Jessica Montgomery, a sixth-grade English Language Arts teacher, formed the Woodington team from volunteers at the beginning of the school year. “This past week we have been working with two-hour practices, staying until 5 o’clock after school, trying to get as much practice in as we could.”

It’s no surprise that the bright students sought for Battle of the Books teams are also in demand for other competitions with an academic basis, like Science Olympiad. “A lot of my team – and this is the same for the other schools, too – were on Science Olympiad and they play sports and you lose those students to those practices. After Science Olympiad was over (in mid-February), we had to come together as a team and focus on procedure.”

Woodington’s formula for success might be described as “leave nothing to chance.” In addition to the students reading the books and each of them designated as “experts” on certain titles, coaches Perritt and Montgomery stage practices to simulate as much as possible the actual contest, right down to where students sit, how the questions are asked and how responses should be given.

“You can’t coach them during competition. All the coaching comes before,” Perritt said. “So I’m just sitting there hoping they remember everything we’ve been over and I know that they know, but at that point my coaching is over. They have to do what they do.”

And Woodington did. Again. “I’m very proud of them,” Perritt said.

Students on the Woodington team are J.T. Gautier, Kailey Jones, Aiden Lawson, Michael Mozingo, Adi Patel, Caidan Smith, Josh Stroud, Kaylee Taylor, Kadence Thigpen and Lovia Valdivia-Tucker.

The team from Frink Middle was Brianna Anderson, Taylor Benton, Whitney Byrd, Taleah Carr, Carmelo Crews, Katelynn Hardison, Savannah Hardison, Adin Poe, Spencer Roller, Jayla Spikes, Macy Schmidt, Melinda Wimbush and coaches Lauran Smith and Melanie Bowden.

The Contentnea-Savanah team was Brooks Grady, Gentle Haze, Merrisa Kee, Jaden Powell, Kaylee Sugg and coach Traci Banks.

The Rochelle team was Jariyaha Crowley, Shameyah Jones-Edwards, Issabella Harman, Brianna Howell, Camesia Moore, Jasmine Prior, Otisha Richards, Kennady Sutton, Zy’Rehanna Williams and coach Alicia Hunter.

Photo captions:

(Top) Members of the Woodington Middle School team, winners of the 2022 LCPS Middle School Battle of the Books, are, from left, front, Lovie Valdivia-Tucker, Josh Stroud, Caidan Smith, Kaylee Taylor, Kadance Thigpen and Adi Patel; back, coach Missy Perritt, Kailey Jones, Michael Mozingo, Aiden Lawson, J.T. Gautier and coach Jessica Montgomery.

(Below left) The EB Frink team was, from left, front, Whitney Byrd, Taylor Benton, Adin Poe, Taleah Carr, Macy Schmidt, Spencer Roller, and Brianna Anderson; back, Melinda Wimbush, Katelynn Hardison, Jayla Spikes, Savannah Hardison, Melanie Bowden, Carmelo Crews and Jo Ann Brown.

(Below right) The team from Contentnea-Savannah K-8 was, from left, Merrisa Kee, Kaylee Sugg, Jaden Powell, Brooks Grady, Gentle Haze and coach Tracy Banks.

(Below center) The team from Rochelle Middle was, from left, front, ZyRehanna Williams, Kennady Sutton, Shameyah Jones-Edwards, Jariyaha Crowley, Jasmine Prior, back, Camesia Moore, Brianna Howell, Issabella Harman, Otisha Richards and coach Alicia Hunter.

two rows of students in white t shirt hold red 2nd place ribbons as they pose for photoFive students and an adult female in black t shirts hold white (third-place) ribbons as they pose for photoNine students and a female adult stand in two rows in black t shirts posing for a photo