PILOT MOUNTAIN — Pilot Mountain Middle School once again topped a field of four teams Thursday in the annual Battle of the Books as moderator Janet Sutphin announced “let the battle begin.”
Central Middle finished second with Meadowview in third and Gentry fourth.
The win follows the Ravens winning the state battle title last year and caps off top county honors for seven out of the past eight years going into the tournament.
“Our competition scores this year were closer than ever and we are so proud of our teams. I attribute all of this to the excitement steaming from our elementary competition into building phenomenal middle school teams coached by great media specialists,” said Middle School Battle of the Books Coordinator Donna Bledsoe. “We appreciate all our coaches’ and students’ hard work this year to prepare for the events. We look forward to Pilot Middle representing Surry County Schools in April at the regional competition.”
Bledsoe said she feels the level of competition for the event continues to rise.
“The fact this is an established event has helped participants and coaches to be more competitive as they learn the structure,” said Bledsoe. “Kids are excited to be a part of these teams. I think that’s because we’ve been successful in celebrating and recognizing competition teams as much as athletic events.”
Bledsoe said enthusiasm for the middle school event directly influenced establishing the literary battle on the elementary school level and looks forward to eleven teams competing in that event set for March 14 beginning at 8:30 a.m. at Rockford Elementary.
Students making up the Pilot Mountain team are Lili Craven, Daphne Dotson, Tripp Gilley, Leah Hayes, Elena Heath, Sarah Mann, Nathaniel McCraw, Elizabeth Porter, Abigail Robertson, Katarina Sechrist, Nathan Sheets, Jayne Willard.
The Central team’s members are MacKenzie Boyles, Emma Childress, Emma Hernandez, Amy Hinson, Polly Kreh, Olivia Lane, Ryan Martin, David Meyer, Sarryn Meyer, Katelynn Shinault, Lela Shinault and Teresa Vazquez. This team is coached by Lisa Crede, Heather Stafford and Tracy Poindexter.
Meadowview’s team members are Brianna Bobbitt, Isaiah Cabrera, Jordan Edwards, Emily Edwards, Olivia Jones, Blake King, Brady King, Jake Lawson, Grace Martin, Bethany McCormack, Spreeanne Norris and Johnathan Vaught. This team is coached by Amy Edwards.
Students on Gentry’s team were Andrew Butler, Logan Dean, Carson Draughn, Emma Haynes, Destini Hudson, Isaac Lyons, Olivia Mauldin, Korrine McHone, Ally Mosley, Isaac Phipps, Michelle Ramos-Maldinado and Allyni Tate. The squad is coached by Shannon Snow and Heather Grant.
Veteran coach Rene Mosley said it’s not all about competition. This year she attributes the death of East Surry Student Jacob Pettitt to her “mathletes” appearing more close knit as a team.
“This is one of the first years where the students have had a circle prayer,” said Mosley. “They thanked God for their team being their second family. It was all very sweet.”
Evidence of this was apparent in East Surry Junior Cassidy Allen, who returned to the team as an assistant coach as part of her senior project.
“They told me my project should be about something I feel passionate about and Battle of the Books was a natural choice,” said Allen. “It’s very important to me. I never thought I’d be with the program and wearing this jersey again. I’m back and I love it.” She explained Pilot Mountain advanced to the state competition when she was on the team as a seventh grader in 2011 and finished second. The following year Allen and the team captured the top honor.
Principal Lorrie Sawyers, who has been involved with the event for four years, apparently feels hosting the effort helps her school on many levels as the school’s string of victories has become established.
“In Surry County, every school gets to host some event and we were lucky enough to get Battle of the Books,” said Sawyers. “We’re excited because our kids have been so successful. It gives us an incentive. The kids want to do well in their home. This is there place.”
Sawyers praised the work of Mosley and the dedication of the participants as well as the support of parents and the community.
“I think that is why we have had state championships. It’s a big deal here. Fifth graders are always talking about this,” Sawyers said. “What I like is our enthusiasm at the middle school level has fueled us being in the third year in a row of this at the elementary level. My niece is just as excited as any of these kids.
David Broyles may be reached at 336-719-1952 or on twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.