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By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
APRIL 21, 2017 – Meadowlark Elementary School won the district Elementary Battle of the Books competition.
“I am so proud of our kids,” said Emily Cagle, who is the media coordinator at Meadowlark. “They do a wonderful job working as a team.”
“We’re excited,” said team member Christine Sullivan.
Vienna Elementary placed second, and Southwest Elementary placed third.
Piney Grove Elementary came in fourth, and Whitaker and Brunson elementary schools tied for fifth.
Fourth- and fifth-graders from 11 Winston-Salem/Forsyth County elementary schools participated. By the end of the day, every school had competed against every other school.
The competition at the Education Building moved along crisply. Based on past years, Jackie Pierson, the school system’s Director of Library Media Services, thought the matches might last until later this afternoon. But it was not yet 1 p.m. by the time, she was announcing the winners.
She attributed that in part to students being so well-prepared.
“You all knew these cold, and you whipped through the questions,” she said when everyone gathered in the auditorium for the announcements.
The 11 teams competing in the district competition were the teams that earned the most points in the early rounds of competitions, which included 27 schools in the district. It was the third time in four years that Meadowlark won the district competition. After winning in 2014 and 2015, the team placed second to Morgan in 2016. On May 4, Meadowlark team will compete in the Region 5 competition in Greensboro.
Many parents were on hand for the competition, including Mike and Shela Boland, there to support their son, Ethan, who goes to Lewisville.
“I don’t think there is anything more important than reading,” Shela Boland said.
Boland is a strong reader who retains what he reads, Mike Boland said. “He can tell you about the details.”
Even though everything went smoothly, it was still a long day and more than one student said that a nap was in his or her future. It will be a while before Reagan Grant, who goes to Lewisville, will get a chance to rest.
After she and others from Lewisville spent the day at Camp Hanes participating in such adventures as canoeing, archery and zip lining, she didn’t get to bed until 11:30 p.m. Later today, her soccer team has a match, and, on Saturday, she and her family are going to see Virginia Tech play. After church on Sunday, she plans to get back to reading, something she loves doing.
“I read all the time,” Reagan said.
In addition to reading the books on the Battle of the Books list, she has read another 80 books since January so that she could submit multiple entries into the “Bikes for Books” program at Lewisville, which gives students the opportunity to win bikes and other prizes.
Before the competition began, some of the students talked about such topics as why they like reading and what they do to prepare for a Battle of the Books competition.
“I like how you can picture the book in your head,” said Abi Karthikeyan, who goes to Jefferson.
Her imagination is better than a movie, and Abi finds that, when she sees a movie based on a book, what she pictured in her head was even better.
Aditi Swaminathan, who also goes to Jefferson, likes how a book can sometimes help you make it through a tough time in your life. Sometimes, it’s just that the book lets you get away from it all. In the case of the book Smile, the book was helpful even more directly.
Aditi was going to have to have a tooth pulled and she was nervous about it. She was reading Smile, in which the girl falls and damages her two front teeth. Reading how the girl in the book dealt with it all helped Aditi face getting her tooth pulled.
Abi and Aditi have both learned a lot about the real world from reading books and it’s made them grateful for what they have. Aditi didn’t realize that finding clean water to drink could be such a challenge in Sudan. And, in Crenshaw, Abi learned about someone having to sleep in a car.
“I am grateful that I have a house to live in,” Abi said.
When it comes to preparing for a competition, Aditi likes to tell members of her family and her babysitter about the books.
“It helps me remember if I say it out loud,” she said.
Of the books on the list, Nick Acosta, who goes to Jefferson, especially liked Crenshaw.
“It shows you that, even though things can be bad, you can still find good things,” Nick said.
When a competition is coming up, Nick makes sure to get a good night’s sleep and to eat breakfast. This morning, he had a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios.
Sophie Johnson, who goes to Whitaker, has been reading ever since she taught herself to read in pre-school.
“I like to imagine it in my head,” Sophie said.
The Harry Potter books are among her favorites.
Davis Lynch, who also goes to Whitaker, likes to read both fiction and nonfiction. When it comes to nonfiction, he especially enjoys history and biographies. One of the biographies he read is about Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.
Many of the students prepare for competitions by reading books more than once. Caitlin Lowe, who goes to Vienna, has read some books on the list three or four times.
Caitlin is thinking about becoming a scientist when she grows up and, when it comes to nonfiction, she often chooses a book about some subject in science. When it comes to fiction, she especially likes historical fiction.
Fellow Vienna student Lucas O’Neal also reads some books three or four times. He has also listened to some an extra time on CD.
Lucas’ mother, Gina Cusato-O’Neal, is the media coordinator at Vienna, one of the few Winston-Salem/Forsyth County schools that also has a Junior Elementary Battle of the Books teams for second- and third-graders. Lucas, who is now a fifth-grader, has been competing in Battle of the Books competitions since he was in second grade.
Having read so many books for Battle of the Books competitions means that, sometimes, when a question is asked, one of the books from a previous year pops to mind as a possible answer.
Jacob Kiesling, who goes to Piney Grove, regularly rereads books. In the case of Savvy, he ended up reading the book seven times.
Cassidy Cashion, who also goes to Piney Grove, wants to join the U.S. Navy one day and to become a captain. “My dad was in the Navy,” she said.
When she reads, Cassidy likes to enter the world of the book in her mind.
“I can be in it and see it,” Cassidy.
In addition to Emily Cagle, the coaches for the Meadowlark team at Bridgett Kridel, April Murray, Suzanne Arnold and Cheryl Bullard.
In addition to the Meadowlark students competing today, more than 30 more students participate in the program. The 12 there today were: