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Students test reading skills in 'Battle of the Books'



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The winner of the fourth-grade Battle of the Books was the team named “Becca and the Boyz from Oxford Elementary School. They included (from left) Peter Burean, Cody Schodowski, Becca Smiles, Danny Mitchell, Ben Fracker and Tommy Giberson. Team advisors not pictured: Kim Burean and Julie Fracker. Photo provided. (click for larger version)
April 18, 2012 - Two major battles were fought in Oxford last week.

No one got hurt, and everyone learned something.

A total of 80 fourth-graders (15 teams) and 44 sixth-graders (nine teams) tested their comprehension skills and memories as they went brain-to-brain in the annual Battle of the Books, sponsored by the Oxford Public Library.

The competition consisted of students answering assorted questions about four or five specific books, which they read and studied prior to the battle.

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Winning the fourth-grade competition was the team of "Becca and the Boyz" from Oxford Elementary School (OES).

Members included Becca Smiles, Peter Burean, Cody Schodowski, Danny Mitchell, Ben Fracker and Tommy Giberson. Advisors were parents Kim Burean and Julie Fracker.

This is the first time since 2007 that the competition's traveling trophy has returned to OES.

According to Shae Smith, the library's head of youth services, the competition was quite heated. A total of three tie-breaker questions was required before "Becca and the Boyz" claimed the mantle of victory.

A team called the "Warrior Wolves" won the sixth-grade competition. They included Maggie Hartman, Georgia Waters, Clarissa Keefer, Isabelle Abraham and Cia Singelyn. Their advisor was parent Leslie Hartman.

"There were five girls on the team, but only three of them were able to come to the competition," noted Charli Osborne, the library's head of teen services. "They only had three people (Hartman, Waters and Keefer) and they still beat all those other teams, which is awesome. Two people down and they still managed to win."

Smith is a huge proponent of the competition because it "gets the kids excited about reading certain books that maybe they wouldn't have originally picked themselves."

Although participation in the battle is strictly voluntary, finding contestants is never a problem.

"Obviously, a lot of them enjoy it because we have a lot of participants every year," said Smith, noting this was the 11th Battle of the Books.

"We have a lot of boys participate in this (because of the competitive aspect). It's a good way to get boys reading. Girls are usually more interested in reading than boys (at that age)."

Osborne echoed Smith's sentiments about the competition's value when it comes to encouraging and nurturing young readers.

"This is not something they have to do for school, but they still go ahead and do it, and they enjoy it," she said. "It gives them an intellectual outlet as opposed to just sports, and it keeps them reading."

Osborne likes the fact that the competition appeals to kids from different worlds, from the "pleasure readers," who participate for the books, to the competitive kids, who enjoy the battle.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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