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DCS Montessori beats others in book battle

Super readers: students at the DCS Montessori School took first place in the county last month at Douglas County Libraries “Battle of the Books” competition.

The fifth and sixth grade champions: (back row, from left) Brianna Rayman, Courtnae Moran, Tripp Thompson, Sean Riley, Colin Venable, Hayley Rhee, (center) Kyla Kelly.

Third and fourth grade victors celebrate!  Team members (left to right):  Kate Blanchard, Angeline Nairns, Michael Amsbaugh, Lisa Amsbaugh, Alex Amsbaugh, Alexandra Sayeedi, Nolan Bergen, Connor White.

By Lisa Crockett; photos courtesy of Holly Morgan

Two teams of intrepid readers from the DCS Montessori (DCSM) school took home top honors from the Douglas County Libraries “Battle of the Books” competition last month.  The teams, one comprised of third and fourth graders and another of fifth and sixth graders, read a prescribed list of ten books and then went head-to-head with students from other schools to answer questions about what they had read.  After semi-finals and regional finals, both DCSM teams advanced to compete against winning teams from Parker and Highlands Ranch to take first place in the county.

“These kids have worked so hard,” said Holly Morgan, the library teacher at DCSM.  “They have persevered all year and stuck with it.  They’ve also been really good sports, encouraging and cheering for their opponents.  I’m so proud of them.”

Morgan enrolled the school in the competition for the first time this year at the request of fifth grader Hayley Rhee.  As rookie players, Morgan told students to simply enjoy the experience and not worry too much about winning, an approach that seems to have fostered success.  It also proved to be motivation for some students to break out of their reading rut and try something new.

“I really liked reading a book called Escaping the Giant Wave,” said fifth grader Colin Venable.  “It was a fiction book about a tsunami, and it was really interesting.”

Teams for the Battle of the Books competition have been meeting with their volunteer coaches – Lisa Amsbaugh and Gina Riley – every week since early fall.  Strategy for Battle of the Books is a strictly guarded secret and each team has a unique approach, but teamwork is key to success.

“Coach Gina was great and really encouraged us all to contribute,” said fifth grader Tripp Thompsen, a Castle Pines resident and a member of the winning team.  “We all had a chance to do our best and make our best efforts as a team.”

In addition to reading comprehension and strategy, teams have gained deep relationships with one another.

“The students have really pulled together,” said Morgan.  “Their reading skills are amazing, but what is really amazing is they have united with this goal in mind.”



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