Wilsonville team advances to state round in Oregon Battle of the Books competition

Twelve teams of reading warriors converged at the Wilsonville Public Library Saturday for a series of fierce battles as the library hosted a regional competition for the high school division of Oregon Battle of the Books, or OBOB.

The team from Wilsonville High School is headed to the state competition April 12 after emerging undefeated from four battles.

by: KATE HOOTS - Wilsonville High Schools team members take first at the Oregon Battle of the Books regional competition March 1. Back row, from left, Samantha Holman and Francelia Juarez. Front row, from left, Olivia George, Kaitamaria Pounce, Addison Knote and Catie Willard.The Battle of the Books has become a popular program at the primary and middle school levels, but fewer students participate at the high school level, according to Linda Fukasawa, Canby High School’s librarian and a member of the OBOB state board.

“For our region (Clackamas and Multnomah counties), at the grade school there are over 63 teams. At the middle school, there are probably 50-some,” Fukasawa said. “At the high school there are 12. By the time students get into high school, there are a lot of other activities going on.”

Wilsonville High School sent a team to the regional completion for the second year in a row. Last year’s WHS team also advanced to the state tournament.

The team, coached by parent Teri Willard, operates as a club.

“Generally, at the lower levels, kids pull together their own team of four to five kids and do battle,” Willard said. “At the high school, kids don’t necessarily know kids who might be interested in that kind of activity. So we’ve developed a club.”

The WHS OBOB club has been meeting since October, she said. Club members started reading the competition books and assembled into random teams. They battled each other while tracking individual performance to determine who would represent the school at the tournament. In the meantime, each club member read and discussed at least half the 12 books.

“They get along so well,” Willard said. “The recall that they have is incredible.”

That was an asset at the competition, which pitted teams against each other in head-to-head battles designed to test students’ knowledge of the 12 competition books. Some of the questions covered minute details from the books.

“They have to memorize in great detail, find small details from the books,” Fukasawa said. Keeping track of the minutia is the challenge for all OBOB teams, and WHS is no exception.

“Sometimes we didn’t win by a lot,” team member Addison Knote said.

WHS students — and the city’s younger reading warriors — found plenty of support at the public library. The library orders an ample supply of OBOB titles at all levels.

“OBOB books at the library have checked out very well,” Youth Services Librarian Steven Engelfried said the week before the competition. “Today, we have only seven of our 21 total copies (for the high school division) on the shelf, but there have been times when all of them were checked out.”

That level of support is one reason why the Wilsonville library is hosting this year’s competition.

“They help promote the program and they purchase all the books,” Fukasawa said. “It was just a really nice opportunity to partner with them, because they are so supportive of the program.”

WHS students can count on similar support next year. The WHS club anticipates a strong showing next year, too.

“We have only one senior,” Willard said. “Last year, we lost most of our crew, so it was kind of like starting over.”

Although next year’s club won’t form until October, interested students can check in with WHS librarian Holly Gardner any time.

“Before the end of the school year, we will share when they announce the books,” Willard said. “I will be getting all of the English teachers that list of books, so hopefully they can share it with their students. They can start reading over the summer if they have any interest.”

As their prize for winning the regional competition, the WHS team members earned a copy of all the 2015 OBOB books currently available. They will be kept in the school library.

By Kate Hoots
Education reporter
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