DUBLIN — The students at Dublin Primary School showed that book smarts go hand in hand with teamwork, friendship, and celebration — and on Tuesday they took home for the second year in a row the coveted title of top bookworms at Bladen County Schools’ Elementary Battle of the Books.
“We’re extremely excited about winning,” said Dublin Primary School Principal Haley Cheshire. “It’s nice to be able to defend the title. Our school places such an emphasis on literacy — asking children to read, encouraging them to read and watching their levels grow—that winning was just icing on the cake, showing that what we’re doing is working.”
Last March, the North Carolina Battle of the Books Committee generated a list of 18 elementary-level books for students who wanted to participate in the Battle of the Books to read. Any student who so desired had from September to April to read the books in order to prepare for Tuesday’s competition. In addition to reading, participants prepared by watching mock competitions online, skyping with other international or local teams, quizzing with their coaches, or competing in online practice competitions.
In the previous two years of the competition in Bladen County, the elementary schools only completed a partial list of books and, in doing so, were not eligible to participate in the regional competition. This year, however, the entire list was presented to schools, and two teams squared off Tuesday in 21 rounds of eight state-generated questions per round. Teams received points for each correct answer and competed once against every other team, with the highest cumulative score winning.
“Each student didn’t have to read all 18 books,” said Stacey Regan-Murphy of Bladen County Schools Technology Services. “Each team member probably read a few books, so each book on the list was covered by at least one person on the team.”
On Tuesday, Moderator Karei Swift, of Follett School Solutions, did ask for any student who had read all 18 books to stand up, and about eight students rose for the recognition.
The organizers of the event made a last-minute change to the program, from 42 rounds down to 21, after talking with Swift before the competition began.
“He (Follet) does competitions all over the state, and he told us that he’s seen competitions with this many rounds, and, at the elementary school level, it was just too hard on the children. The poor babies were falling asleep because they were so tired,” sympathized Regan-Murphy.
After coaches agreed on the alteration, the inquest began.
“Those are some really tough, meticulous questions,” said Regan-Murphy.
Questions included such hard-to-find probes as “In which book does a character miss being kissed right on the nose because he is asleep?” and “In which book does someone live to be 100 years old, each year more miserable than those before?” All questions were answered with one of the 18 book titles, and teams received an extra point if they could also name its author.
“The students and their coaches worked very hard preparing and reading titles on the state book list,” said Jason Atkinson, Chief Technology Officer. “The closeness of the scores is indicative of how well prepared they were.”
In the end, only two points separated the top three finishers. Dublin Primary had 60 points, Plain View Elementary was right on their heels with 59, and Bladenboro finished with 58 points.
“It really came down to the last round,” said Jerry Faulkner of Technology Services.
Dublin Primary is planning a pizza party for the winning team members, and they will be allowed to wear to school, instead of their normal uniforms, Battle of the Books T-shirts made for the competition, along with the medals they received for winning.
“We want them to stand out from the general school population to be recognized for what they did,” stated Cheshire.
Dublin’s winning team will, according to Atkinson, probably review the books and focus on missed questions from the competition to prepare for the regional event, which will be held on Friday, April 29, in Hoke County
“Based on how they did here, I think their prospects for regionals are pretty good,” conjectured Cheshire. “Kinlaw is an amazing coordinator and coach and is excited to show off what our school is capable of.”
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.