DOBSON — The second Surry County Schools Elementary School Battle of the Books Competition hosted by Rockford Elementary School had the intensity of its middle school division counterpart but appeared more competitive with 11 teams fielded.
Coordinator Donna Bledsoe said 11 teams really increased the excitement for the event. She said elementary participants read from a listing of 17 books for the elementary division competition.
“The competition was a great event and the students left with smiling faces,” said Bledsoe. “They worked hard to make their school teams by reading all 17 books and showed great knowledge throughout the day. We are proud of all our teams and are excited to have this competition at the elementary level for the second year.” Bledsoe also praised Rockford’s staff and administration for hosting a large event during a regular school day.
“What great efforts Rockford has put forward today to be a great host,” said Bledsoe.
Mountain Park Elementary finished first for the second year in a row with Westfield second, Shoals third and Rockford fourth. Bledsoe recalled how a tiebreaker decided the competition last year.
“It (the tiebreaker) was neat last year, we hadn’t seen a tiebreaker round until then,” added Bledsoe. “It’s just that competitive.” Bledsoe credited Surry County Schools Director of Elementary Curriculum and Instruction Jennifer Scott with bringing the event to the elementary schools.
“I’d been involved with the Academically and Intellectually Gifted (AIG) program and we saw a need for all students but especially our higher achieving students to have something that motivates them and challenges them,” said Scott. She explained how the state already was moving in the direction of battle of the books type events and so after some research and talking with other schools the idea was presented on the local level. The appropriate forms were filed and first reading list books were purchased.
“The kids were excited,” said Scott. “When you think of it, there’s no other elementary competition with teams. Most elementary competitions have students compete individually.”
She said the response has been remarkable with literally hundreds of students trying to get on the teams. She said that with three times the students than are needed on the 12-person rosters, coaches’ most difficult task is paring down the choices. Scott said 122 children competed in the battle on Friday at Rockford Elementary School.
“It really has become a community event with all of the parents and extended families that come out in support of the competitions,” said Scott. “I have no doubt as much would have been read without it. It has blossomed to help others as well as AIG and high achiever students.” She also said the competition helps many elementary students transition to the middle school where they find students who are also enthusiastic readers.
Mountain Park coaches Yvonne Hunsucker and Tobey Mitchell appeared calm as they talked to their team in a break room during the competition. Both of them said that although the battle looked like an athletic event on the outside, it was different.
“The point of this is to read, enjoy and have fun,” said Hunsucker. “The focus is to enjoy what they were reading. I had no trepidation going into this year’s competition. They get to meet new people and find new interests to share.”
Mitchell pointed out that because of the natural attrition of students to middle school, elementary teams always are rebuilding and seldom return with most of a team the next year.
“Stay calm. Listen. Listen. Listen,” he told the team before they left for the next round. “Whatever happens, we read 16 really good books and one book only Caitlin (Brannock) liked,” said Mitchell, laughing, before he left with his team.
The members of the Mountain Park Team were Madison Barriere, Charlie Branch, Leah Branch, Caitlin Brannock, Vanessa Delgado, Samantha Dunn, Jaelyn LeClair, Grace Norman, Marisol Rubio, Ashley Sewell, Clay Snow and Bailey White. Westfield’s team members were Noah Barr, Braden bottoms, Gracie Bullington, Carleigh Collins, Marlie Easter,Tripp Gilley, Mackenzie Halstead, Eliza Hart, Casia Lambert and Ronaldo Mares.
The members of the Shoals team were Colton Allen, Courtney Brown, Allie Bruner, Carlie Bullington, Lili Craven, Grace Gibson, Sarah Mann, Gracie Pruitt, Donovan Radford, Chloe Sloop and Anna Windsor. Rockford’s team members were Laney Cave, Jasmine Crotts, Madison Goins, Carter Jones, Mason Kreh, Brooklyn Lester, Noah Lowe, Isaac ring, Ashley Sanchez, Mamie Smith, Kenny Snider and Carlie Via.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.