Ochoco Elementary students compete in the annual Battle of the Books contest

by: Kevin Gaboury/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Shown are the winners of Ochoco Elementary's Battle of the Books, Cade Woodward, Brogan Howard and Kade Jordan-Jahn.

It was a battle to the final chapter.
   Three Ochoco Elementary students recently marched through the Battle of the Books, earning themselves a victory in the school's long-standing competition.
   The battle, consisting of 93 third-, fourth- and fifth-graders this year, began in January with a list of nine books that each group of three students had to memorize. The children were allowed to split the books between themselves and take notes for their teammates. plenty of notes.
   "They can have a strategy and say, `I'll take these three, you read those three and you read those three,'" Ochoco Elementary Teacher and Battle of the Books coordinator Grace Deboodt said. "They take notes on them and they can bring their notes to the battles. It's a lot of fun to see these kids flipping through binders -- pages and pages of notes that they've taken -- to find the answer."
   Volunteering their time, teachers offered the battles in their classrooms on lunch recesses to whittle down the contenders until the champions were determined.
   "It's really kind of a busy little activity at lunch recess when, instead of going out to play on the recess, we get 15 to 20 kids in a classroom to watch the battle between six kids," Deboodt added. "Kids come in and they're asked questions. It's a double elimination tournament -- if you lose twice, you're out. You work toward the winners."
   Students were able to pick their own teammates, offering all three grade levels the opportunity to work together.
   "The books are usually between a third-grade and fifth-grade level. I usually read through them and make sure that they're a challenge for the kids, but not overwhelming," Deboodt said. "The third-grader might read the lower grade level books, but we have some pretty smart-cookie third-graders that can really pop out some books."
   The books consist of fiction and non-fiction, which allows the children a chance to learn about more than just the latest Adventures of Captain Underpants.
   "We use some non-fiction books so that they learn some stuff too," Deboodt said. "This year, one of the books was African American Heroes. It had about 15 African Americans and the accomplishments that they've done through the beginning of our country until current events, so that was kind of cool."
   After the battle had been waged, the Patriots, a team made up of a third-grader and two fourth-graders, was victorious. Cade Woodward, Brogan Howard and Kade Jordan-Jahn won the contest this year, knowing the most about the nine books on the list.
   "It's a lot of fun and they really worked hard at it," Deboodt said, complementing the trio. "They got their names put on a rotating plaque and they got backpacks that were inscribed with `champion'."
   Coming in second place was the Silver Stallion Stars consisting of Audrey Bernard, Coreene Schultz and Kenzie Hodges.
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