High school and primary school students show smart books

Philomath will be at the Oregon Battle of the Books state tournament in Salem next month, following a second-place finish in last weekend’s regional elementary school competition. Meanwhile, the Reading Retrievers dynasty continued into high school with a fourth straight school championship.

These are two of the storylines emerging from this year’s Battle of the Books competitions in middle and elementary schools.

The elementary school Battle of the Books competition, described by the organization as a “voluntary program for reading motivation and comprehension,” consisted of 13 teams. Two rounds of pool play led to teams being placed in a play-off round. Of these, the Bookworms and Enchanted Readers advanced to the PES Championship on February 27.

The Bookworms of fifth-grader Gretel Appanaitis, Hannah Hammonds and Viola Trippe won the best-of-three competition with back-to-back wins.

“We had a large group of families, teachers and a few other OBOB team members cheering them on,” said Molly Bell, who coordinates the grassroots program. “We are proud of all 13 teams who participated this year with 58 students and would like to thank all the parents and teachers who help support our program here at PES.”

The Enchanted Readers finished second. From left to right: Camryn Martin, Wren Nordyke, Leona DeMasi, Maya McKnight and Clara Smith. (Photo provided by Molly Bell)

The Enchanted Readers team consisted of five members: Leona DeMasi, Camryn Martin, Maya McKnight, Wren Nordyke, and Clara Smith. Up to four students can participate in battles and the team alternates one member each round.

The primary school section (grades 3-5) included a list of 16 books for students to read.

Trippe, from the winning team, said she enjoys “competing against other teams because it’s fun to see what they can do.”

Team members each have their favorites. Appanaitis preferred “The List of Things That Won’t Change” because “it was amazing and catchy,” she said. Smith of the second team said “The Midnight Children” was her favorite “because the kids had to live on their own and work together as a team.” McKnight, also of Enchanted Readers, called “Molly and the Twin Towers: A 9/11 Survival Story” her favorite title “because I enjoy that series and author.”

The Bookworms placed second at the regional competition on Saturday and qualified for the OBOB state tournament. From left to right: Hannah Hammonds, Viola Trippe, Gretel Appanaitis and Leona DeMasi. (Photo provided by Molly Bell)

The regional tournament took place Saturday at Linn-Benton Community College, with the Bookworms among 26 participating teams. The team earned a No. 1 seed in pool play and then won all single-elimination battles to reach the finals. There, the Kathryn Jones Harrison Elementary School team from Corvallis took victory.

DeMasi joined Bookworks’ original trio Appanaitis, Hammonds and Trippe to give the team four members for the competition.

Bell said the Bookworms team had a lot of support at the regional event. Kristin Trippe served as team coach and other family members, as well as Smith and McKnight of the Enchanted Readers, were on hand to cheer on the team.

“This shows the great support and sportsmanship that our PES OBOB teams have for each other,” said Bell. “This is the first time a Philomath Elementary School team has advanced to the state OBOB tournament, so it is very exciting.”

The OBOB state tournament is scheduled for April 13 at Chemeketa Community College in Salem.

The Reading Retrievers won a school championship for the fourth year in a row. From left to right: Sarah Workman, Sophia Brandt, Scarlet Panico and Alida Benbow. (Photo provided by Meegan Benbow)

Reading Retrievers win again

At the middle school level (grades 6-8), the Reading Retrievers with sixth-grade team members Alida Benbow, Sophia Brandt, Scarlet Panico and Sarah Workman defeated the Screaming Books on Feb. 22 in the championship round. It is the fourth year in a row that the Reading Retrievers have won a school championship.

“We had some great battles between the Screaming Books and the Reading Retrievers,” said eighth-grade social studies and literature teacher Meegan Benbow, who coordinates the Battle of the Books program at the middle school level.

The Reading Retrievers answered all questions correctly in the first battle to a 40-15 win. In the second fight the competition was much closer, with the score tied at 20-20 after regulation. They went to a tiebreaker round and the Retrievers earned a 30-20 victory.

The second team from Screaming Books consisted of Toby Muravez, Samuel Noakes, Evan O’Rourke, Austin Sailor and Spencer Schiminski. (Photo provided by Meegan Benbow)

The second Screaming Books team consisted of Toby Muravez, Samuel Noakes, Evan O’Rourke, Austin Sailor and Spencer Schiminski.

The high school competition was the first to host a night championship.

The Reading Retrievers advanced to regional competition last weekend at Timber Ridge School in Albany. There, the Philomath contingent got off to a great start by leading the group play with 128 points. But the team was eliminated in the Elite Eight round, finishing fifth.

This year’s Battle of the Books competition at the high school featured three teams with a total of 14 students.

“There was a resurgence of OBOB at the high school level this year because it was lost due to COVID-19,” Benbow said. “The students got off to a slow start in the fall, but gained momentum in January and February. We had some great pool battles and a good semi-final between the Literary Legends and Screaming Books.

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