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Twin Peaks team crusades into second in Battle of the Books

Jul 06, 2017 10:44AM ● Published by Julie Slama

Twin Peaks’ fifth- and sixth-grade team, with librarian and coach Deborah Daines, places second in Granite School District’s Battle of the Books competition. (Twin Peaks Elementary)

About 200 students on 52 teams from 18 elementary schools met head to head to answer questions where they needed to name the book and author in 20 seconds.

The students, composed of a third- and fourth-grade team and a fifth- and sixth-grade team, knew the answers would revolve around the 15-book list for their division they read before the first Granite School District’s Battle of the Books competition.

After progressing through several 24-question rounds in a “Family Feud” style competition, Twin Peak’s fifth- and sixth-grade team, nicknamed the Rebel Readers, advanced to the final round. The team, which composed of sixth-grader Kimberly Colton, sixth-grader Athena Kierstead, fifth-grader Mallory Skelton and fifth-grader Isabella Gundersen, faced Rose Crest.

“We were confident in our rounds,” Kami said and added that the team didn’t miss a question in the qualifying rounds. “We had read the books, discussed them, and reviewed them before the competition.”

With each round, the intensity grew, but for Twin Peaks’ team, the girls were having fun.

“We were enjoying it, not just being serious,” Athena said. “We were laughing between every question.”

In the final round, the battle went back and forth for 24 questions, with both teams answering most correctly. However, both teams also didn’t answer some questions fully and ended up getting partial points. In the end, Rose Crest edged Twin Peaks to win the title by seven points.

“We knew a couple of their answers and they knew a couple of ours,” said Kami, who liked Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s book “The War That Saved My Life.”

Still, the Twin Peaks team was happy in its first year in the tournament this spring, Athena said.

“I was really happy. I worked so hard to read all those books—one week, I read about six hours one day—and we did so well,” she said, adding that she enjoyed Sharon Draper’s “Out of My Mind.”

Although each team member received a medal, Kami said it was more than that.

“Looking at these lists, it helped me to branch out to read books I wouldn’t have otherwise read. I met new people that I never knew before and wouldn’t have talked to them before we were placed on this team. It’s been a lot of fun,” she said.

The road to the competition began back in September, when their coach, librarian Deborah Daines, provided students with the book lists determined by the district elementary library supervisor and Battle of the Books coordinator Nikki Gregerson.

In early March, Daines held after-school discussions about the setting to the plot to review the books on each division list.

“Some students read all 30 books, but it was only 15 for each level that they needed to read,” she said, adding that this was on their own time, not part of a class assignment.

Athena was one of those students who read all 30 books, as was Mallory, who liked Jessica Day George’s “Dragon Slippers.”

“At first, I didn’t want to do Battle of the Books, but my mom encouraged me,” Mallory said, who read some of the books along with recorded readings. “I’m glad I did because most of the books were enjoyable. They picked some good ones.”

Isabella, who liked Neal Shusterman’s “Tesla’s Attic,” said Battle of the Books sounded like fun, and has learned some memorizing techniques, but she was nervous about the competition.

“I like to read and it sounded like fun, but I was anxious,” she said.

Daines held a mock Battle of the Books tournament at the school, asking students questions from an overview to detailed specifics, with each answer being the book title or author, like the competition.

“It was the same verbal format as the actual competition and we used the highest scores to be named to our teams,” she said.

Then, the two teams met weekly to practice on questions Daines prepared before competing in the qualifying rounds to advance to the district competition.

Twin Peaks third- and fourth-grade team faced close competition early. In just the second round, they faced a sudden death tiebreaker.

“It was really emotional when they lost to Rose Crest,” she said about the team composed of Luka Milas, Lucy Murphey, Teagan Frendt and Wyatt Stanger.

However, Daines said that the program brought more than book discussion to the students on the team.

“Some of our kids who didn’t make it on our teams, came to support our students. They also came after school to help quiz our teams. Some of these students involved in Battle of the Books aren’t always ones we expect and surprised teachers with how much they were reading. It really brought unity to our school,” she said.
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