03/14/10 — Norwayne Middle wins Wayne schools' Battle of the Books

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Norwayne Middle wins Wayne schools' Battle of the Books

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 14, 2010 1:50 AM

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The team from Spring Creek Middle School readies for their round of competition during Friday's Battle of the Books. Nine middle school teams from Wayne County competed in the quiz bowl-type contest, based on a reading list of 27 books. Pictured from left are Charity Brown, Cassie Alphin, Luis Garcia, Jolly Lau, Grace West and Katie Windleblack.

Rosewood Middle School's bright purple shirts said it all -- "Conquering the World of Books 1 Battle at a Time."

They had already won last year's Battle of the Books for Wayne County Public Schools.

But it was not to be on Friday, when they came in second to Norwayne Middle School.

Co-coach Angie Lewis, a seventh-grade math teacher at Rosewood, had designed the team's shirts.

As the students prepared to compete in Friday's event at Dillard Middle School, co-coach Kathy Lawson said it was an exciting day for the 15 team members, which included three alternates.

"We have five returning members from last year and the rest are all new," she said. "It's nice to have an academic competition with so many students who are enthusiastic about it."

This was the 24th year for the competition, said Olivia Pierce, executive director of community relations, media and technology for the district, who also served as moderator.

"The first year we had this competition we only had three teams and this year we have nine teams participating," she said.

Represented were Brogden, Eastern Wayne, Dillard, Greenwood, Grantham, Mount Olive, Norwayne, Spring Creek and Rosewood middle schools.

The competition is for students in grades 6-8, and its purpose is to spark an interest in reading.

"We know that students who read are going to be the most successful students in school," Mrs. Pierce said.

The regional competition was introduced in 1985. Winners from each school district advance to the regional event and from there, to the state level.

Students are given a list of 27 books to read in anticipation of the quiz bowl-like contest. Among them, "Airborne" by Kenneth Oppel, "Bronx Masquerade" by Nikki Grimes, "Code talker" by Joseph Brucha and "The Kite Rider" by Geraldine McCaughrean.

To participate, the school must have a media coordinator, something Grantham School was lacking until October, when Muriel Wright was hired.

"They have read the books, and we narrowed it down to seven students (on the team)," Ms. Wright said. "It depends on how the coaches want to do it. We divided it so that all the books have been read."

Coach Rebecca Belvan, who also teaches sixth grade language arts and social studies, said the effort initially started out as a club. Students met frequently to prepare for the Battle of the Books, she said.

"This is my first year doing this," she said. "I'm treating this year as a learning experience. I just kind of pulled from the experience of other people like Ms. Wright. She didn't come until October, so we weren't even sure we could compete until January."

Ms. Belvan praised the all-girl team, saying they were a "fantastic group who really worked hard."

Abigail Ezzell, an eighth-grader, said she had read five or six books.

Sitting nearby, Aubrianna Balderas, a seventh-grader, said she was nervous about going on stage but felt confident in her knowledge of the books she read.

Olivia Giddens, an eighth-grader, had created a Jeopardy-type game to help prepare.

"We studied the Jeopardy game and we went through the author's names," she said.

Her younger sister Katherine Giddens, a sixth-grader, was also on the team. She said she appreciated being able to study with Olivia at home and enjoyed the Jeopardy game. But she also had a strategy of her own -- word association using the author's names and book titles.

"I enjoyed reading the books, studying them and how we all worked together," added Karla Huerta, a sixth-grader.

The winning Norwayne team will travel to Pamlico Community College on March 26 to compete at the regional level.

Team members included Jacob Ballance, Brock Eberlan, Michael Eutsey, Sharif Ewais, Megan Fallows, Amanda Hancock, Robbie Jennette, Victor Presbindowski, Julia Stamper, Ian Taylor and Chris Tavares.

Members of the Rosewood team included Waverlea Brown, Cullen Chandler, Kaylie Chandler, Anna Cooke, Sidney Cox, Jacob Dubose, Sara Lewis, Alexis Mitchell, De'Lon Nowell, Nicole Radford, Evan Reiss and Charleigh Smith.