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By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
APRIL 5, 2017 – After winning the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County district competition for Middle School Battle of the Books, the nine members of the team from Clemmons Middle School and coaches Rebecca Bobbitt and Connie Adams-Jones moved on to the Region 5 competition, which included 16 schools from such counties as Davidson, Surry, Stokes, Yadkin and Davie.
“I am very proud of them,” Adams-Jones said. “They have worked very hard.”
Bobbitt attributed the team’s success in the district competition in part to the students’ dedication and to the support of the parents.
“The kids were determined to do well,” she said. “We had a lot of parental support. We have some of the best parents.”
The Region 5 competition was held yesterday in Winston-Salem at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Westchester Road. Although, the Clemmons Middle team did place not in the top three, everyone was happy to be there competing.
“Although our team did not place, I am very proud of their hard work and dedication to reading!” Adams-Jones said. “These kids have invested time and determination this year in becoming a team that works well together. I am proud of each and every one of them.”
"This is the first Clemmons Middle School Battle of the Books team to ever make it to the region competition," Bobbitt said. "We also appreciate our BOB parents, who have supported our team in so many ways, from chaperoning to providing food to making emergency trips back to school to pick up forms. This has been an incredible year for our team!"
Several parents had taken off work to be there to encourage their children. Those on hand included Lonnie and Akilah Paige, who were there in support their daughter, Yasmine, and Amanda Bailey, who was there in support of her daughter, Abigail.
Bailey said that Abigail’s strong reader genes came to her through her grandmother, Mitzi, and that Abigail is an avid reader. “She can finish a book in a day and a half,” Bailey said.
In a Battle of the Books competition, students read books from a common list and teams earn points by answering questions about the books. The 2016-17 middle school list of 27 books included such well-known books as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and To Kill a Mockingbird.
“It increases their knowledge of books and excitement about books,” said Adams-Jones.
Students and adults invested a lot of time and energy getting ready for the competitions. The Clemmons Middle students have been meeting on Tuesday afternoons since the beginning of the school year.
Four members of the team – Julia Barton, Abigail Culpepper, Trisha Damires and Sami Hamilton – have been on the team for all three years that they have been students at Clemmons Middle.
Jackie Pierson, who is the school system Director of Library Media Services accompanied the Clemmons Middle team. She thinks Battle of the Books competitions are valuable.
“It’s a way for the students to interact with books in a new way and celebrate the joy of reading for fun,” Pierson said.
Before the competition began, team members talked about such topics as why they participate and why they enjoy reading.
Sami Hamilton: “It’s fun and it’s a great way to make friends and find people you have things in common with.”
Plus, she really enjoys reading. “I read a book every day during lunch.”
Sami particularly enjoyed reading Brooklyn Nine by Alan Gratz, which tells the story of a family over nine generations.
Abigail Culpepper: I have made awesome friends I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise.”
She likes that people who enjoy reading tend to know a lot about different things. Her favorite word is “flabbergasted,” which you just don’t get a chance to use often enough in day-to-day conversation. A word that she mispronounced in her head when she first read it was “crochet” because she was thought you pronounced the “t.”
Her favorite book on the reading list was The War that Saved My Life by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley because it shows that even if you have such challenges as a disability, you can be successful.
Hannah Mangus: This is Hannah’s first year on the team. She was inspired to join by seeing others participating. “They made it look like so much fun.”
“I do like to read. It gets me out of the boring, everyday life.”
Asked what her favorite book on the list was, she said, “I’m going to be a big nerd and say Harry Potter. That was the book that really got me into reading.”
When she was in the second or third grade, students could pick a book from a table to keep and she picked up Harry Potter. “It was magical.”
Kadin Martin: For Kadin, becoming a comfortable reader was important because it required overcoming dyslexia, he said. “People thought I would always struggle with it and I wanted to prove them wrong.”
“Watch me,” he imagined saying to them. If Thomas Edison and Ben Franklin could become good readers, so could he. He has and now he finds it relaxing to read. He likes to read at night after brushing his teeth and climbing into bed.
Kadin joined the team because it was something fun to do after school. His favorite book on the list is The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen. He runs track – he focuses on the mile – and likes the book’s connection with running.
Yasmine Paige: As a sixth-grader, this is Yasmine’s first year on the Clemmons Middle team. But she participated in the team at Morgan Elementary when she was a student there, so she’s a veteran competitor.
Why did she join this year? “I thought it would a fun way to use my knowledge of reading books.”
She plays basketball and finds reading a good way to relax after being active. She also plays the piano. Her father refers to her as his Renaissance girl.
Yasmine’s favorite book on the list was A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. “There are a lot of twists and turns in the plot.”
Peyton Hiller: “I love to read. You can travel in time to the past or the future.”
Peyton loves to draw and imagines becoming an architect or animator one day.
Her favorite book on the list was The Boys Who Challenged Hitler by Phillip Hoose. “It teaches you that somebody can make a difference.”
Chandler Severt: “I like to read. It calms the mind and it’s fun. I read during the day when I have time.”
His favorite book on the list was Legend by Marie Lu.
Julia Barton: Fantasy, adventure, nonfiction – Julia likes it all. She once started reading an American sign language dictionary because she thought it would be interesting. She made it as far as “J” where she learned the sign for Jesus.
Without a doubt, her favorite book on the list was Harry Potter, which her sister Allie, who is now a junior at the University on North Carolina at Chapel Hill, read aloud to Julia when she was 5. Julia figures she has read it at least a dozen times since then.
Trisha Damires: Trisha, who is now in eighth-grade, has been on the team since she was a sixth-grader. “I really enjoy reading and I thought this would be really fun.”
“I like to read fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction. I like seeing how authors can tie in history with cool story lines. It makes me think more about what history was like.”
The nine members of the team are: