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RHMS library: A book battleground

Photo of RHMS Battle of the Books students

Rocky Heights Middle School (RHMS) Librarian Amy Tempel and 48 students gathered for Battle of the Books this spring. RHMS had the largest number of participants in the District this year, with 12 individual teams competing.

Rocky Heights Middle School (RHMS) students recently concluded their Battle of the Books season. The 48 participating students divided themselves into 12 teams of 3-5 students per team. Three RHMS teams tied for third place at the end of regular battles, with the top two teams advancing to the district competition. The RHMS teams finished third and fourth in the district tournament.

Book enthusiasm runs strong at RHMS. Out of the nine middle school teams in Douglas County School District (DCSD), RHMS had the most teams to enter the contest. Teams can consist of students from one grade or mixed grades. This year, the RHMS teams were comprised of 22 seventh grade students, representing the largest group, 16 sixth graders and nine eighth graders.

“If I can get them hooked as a 6th grader, they will usually continue to do it each year,” said RHMS Librarian Amy Tempel.

Photo: Left to right): Camden L., Aidan S., Nithya P., William L., and Sumanth K.

Five RHMS students took first place against the 11 other RHMS teams and advanced to District level competition. They finished in the top four in the District Battle of the Books against the top two teams from the other eight middle schools. (Left to right): Camden L., Aidan S., Nithya P., William L., and Sumanth K.

Middle school “Battle of the Books” is slightly different than the elementary school program. Instead of joining the Douglas County Libraries “Battle of the Books” program, the nine middle school librarians in DCSD work together to collectively run the program for district middle schools. Each librarian votes on which ten books he or she would like to have at the battle each year and then writes 100 questions to quiz the students for practice.

Students interested in participating register for this free activity then get to reading. Students converge on the library during the lunch block to eat and practice together. Practices happens in April and battles are held in May.

Ten books are selected each year, and students read and reread them to answer quiz bowl-style questions. This year’s books were a combination of fiction, like City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab, Linked by Gordon Korman, Harris and Me by Gary Paulsen, Downriver by Will Hobbs, and Selection by Kiera Cass. Historical fiction titles included The War That Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick. The graphic novel selected was When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed. Nonfiction titles included Kennedy’s Last Days by Bill O’Reilly and The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer.

“Each year I look forward to the relationships I am able to build with different students,” said Tempel. “The Battle of the Books provides an opportunity for books to be ‘cool’ and a fun atmosphere where some students have found their place in middle school.”

By Celeste McNeil; photos courtesy of Amy Tempel



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