Scappoose Middle School students participate in a different kind of competition

Five Scappoose Middle School students just returned from a battle — a battle with books.

On March 16, they traveled to Portland to participate in a regional competition for Oregon Battle of the Books where they were grilled with questions about the contents of 16 different books, authors’ names and book titles. They placed 16th of 27 teams, an improvement over last year when they didn’t make it past the opening pool.

The statewide program is sponsored by the Oregon Association of School Libraries. In the “battles,” participants score points for their teams by answering questions with the correct answer.

by: SUBMITTED BY KRISTIE FREEMAN - Middle School students, from left: Nate Maller, Kaitlyn Bakkensen, Linnaea Kavulich, Jimmy Jones and Alyssa Bakkensen form just one of the four teams the Scappoose School District sent to the Oregon Battle of the Books regional competition in Portland March 16.

The middle school team was just one of four from the Scappoose School District. Two teams from Otto Petersen Elementary participated and the Scappoose High School team made it to the state competition.

“We have a lot more fun than people think we’d have,” said Scappoose Middle School student Jimmy Jones, who had to be forced onto the team last year, but joined up gladly this year.

“Most people think it’s just reading books, but it’s more than that,” said Nate Maller. “You get to learn about different people and different types of books and how they’re written.”

Maller had approached the middle school’s seventh grade language arts teacher Kristie Freeman about putting together a Battle of the Books team as an enrichment project, said Scappoose Middle School Principal Pam Reynolds. Both women thought it was a great idea.

“I think we focus a lot on sports,” Freeman said. “It’s fun to see an academic competition.”

With the exception of Jones, the students were readers before becoming a part of the team. They don’t always like every single book on the list, but there’s usually at least a handful that really stand out, says student Linnaea Kavulich. And those books that make an impact help the students find other books to enjoy, said Alyssa Bakkensen.

They all agree, as student Kaitlyn Bakkensen said, that “the better books are easier to remember.”

Freeman received a grant that provided two copies of each of the 16 books on this year’s list. The books were added to the school’s library and now any student can check them out.

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