By: Dominique Johnson
Every year, to encourage students to read, the Alaskan School Librarians Association puts on the Battle of the Books. The Battle is a competition that puts a team of students reading comprehension to the test.
This year Holy Name Catholic School put together its first team in recent memory to compete in the annual competition and came away the champions of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District, advancing to the State competition.
Rebecca Mike, Holy Name Campus Minister and coach for Battle of the Books, had coached teams at other schools and districts before, and with her son interested in the competition, she decided to help restart the team at Holy Name. The last team Mike had coached made it to the State competition. She was pregnant at the time with her now eight-year-old son and joked that, “At that time I knew he was going to be a great battler someday.”
The Holy Name Battle of the Books team was made up of five, 3rd and 4th graders who agreed to read one book a week from the list provided by the Librarians Association. The students worked on remembering the books titles and authors; they wrote book reports to work on comprehension, they gave presentations on the books and even practiced over Christmas break with races to find text in the books. “They basically became experts on the books, making sure they knew every nuance and detail,” Mike said.
In the district Battle on February 8th, Holy Name competed against six other 3rd and 4th grade teams, winning the competition with a challenge on the final question of the round, where the students were able to prove to the judge that there was a second correct answer to the question. Following the victory, the kids were “Floating on clouds,” Mike said. The team went out to lunch to celebrate the win, and she said the students brought their trophy with them into the restaurant and “proudly told everyone that walked by about the victory.”
The team competed in the State Battle of the Books two weeks later and finished in 17th place.
Mike shared that while all teams practiced in similar ways by reading and studying, Holy Name students had an extra element in preparation for the competition, “We began every meeting with prayer and praying for one another.” She also shared how during halftime during the district Battle, the school’s principal Nicole Miller, told the team that their fellow classmates sitting in the auditorium were praying for them. Mike said it was great that the students were able to support each other in that way.
With the success of winning the district Battle of the Books in their first year, Mike said more students are interested in being apart of the team next year. She said right now there is interest in forming a 5th and 6th-grade team, and 2nd graders have been asking to join the 3rd and 4th-grade team.