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Liberty dominates Southern region bowl
0220 Reading high kids
Teams from Bradwell Institute, Midway Middle School and Liberty County High School celebrate their victories at the South Region Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl on Feb. 2 in Valdosta. - photo by Photo provided.

Though they keep securing literary victories, the competition is steepening for Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl teams from Lyman Hall Elementary, Midway Middle School, Bradwell Institute and Liberty County High School.
Due to their first- and second-place victories Feb. 2 at the South Region Bowl at Valdosta State University, students from each team will join Camden County students this weekend in representing the region in the Division II Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl.
It will begin at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Southeast Bulloch High School in Brooklet. First-place winners from the Division II bowl will advance to the state level March 9 at the University of Georgia.

The competition
Liberty County teams that placed first or second in the Liberty County Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl loaded onto the buses for the 7:30 a.m. trek to Valdosta State on Feb. 2. Other competing teams were Frank Long Elementary and Lewis Frasier Middle.
There were 10 elementary level teams and nine teams each in the middle- and high-school competitions vying to advance to the Division II competition.
 Once the competition began, five students from each team held onto their buzzers as coaches sat behind their teams ready for challenges to the 10 questions asked during each round. Due to the uneven number of middle- and high-school teams, one team from each level could be found in the lobby area waiting throughout the competition for its bye round to pass.
 In six rounds of competition, elementary teams answered 60 questions from 16 books from the 2012-13 Children’s Book Award nominees for Georgia. Middle-school teams also were asked 60 questions from 20 possible books on the 2012-13 Children’s Book Award nominees for Georgia. The high-school teams faced 60 questions from the Georgia Peach Teen Book Award list.
Some teams, such as Camden County’s Crooked River Elementary and Midway Middle School, earned perfect scores of 100 points during one round. By the end of the competition, all of the scores were checked and tallied and the winners were identified. In some cases, only one question separated a team from first- and second-places.

Elementary-school results
Announcers first honored the schools earning participation trophies, which included Brittin Elementary, Frank Long Elementary and Walker Cubs at elementary levels, and at the higher level, Lewis Frasier and Walker middle schools.
Lewis Frasier’s team later learned that only one question kept the school from tying for third place.
Since all of the participation trophies had been dispensed, the top three remained.
Dr. Gina Doepker of VSU called Valdosta City’s Sallas Mahone Elementary to the stage to receive the third-place trophy, as Lyman Hall Elementary waited to find out whether they would place second or first.
Once Crooked River Elementary was announced in second place, family members from Lyman Hall jumped to their feet and began hugging and crying. The first-place team took the stage as students, parents, coach, principal, vice principal and teachers celebrated the moment.
Lyman Hall team member David Resto, who was overcome with emotion, asked to speak to the crowd. He thanked all of the schools and congratulated them on being fierce competitors.
Middle-school results
Midway Middle School was announced as the first-place winner. The MMS team, consisting of five girls and coaches Cristina Dover and Nancy Probst, accepted the trophy.
The middle school division’s third-place honor went to St. Marys Middle School, and Camden Middle took second place.

High-school honors
Valdosta High was announced as the third-place team, leaving Bradwell Institute and Liberty County High as the only two teams unannounced.
Liberty County was announced as the second-place team. Coach and media specialist Amy Rhoades took the stage with the team, which included long-time members Clayton Grant and Mallory Roberts, whose experience dated back to their years at Joseph Martin Elementary, and senior Jabrell Thomas, who has participated in reading bowl since middle school.
Facing only one round of defeat during the bowl to Islands High School, Bradwell’s team made a charge toward first place. Coaches Nikki Lukkarinen, Melissa McCallar and Joanna VanBelkum fought back tears as the team took the stage. Seniors Kiana Brown, Tyrique Golphin and Susan Mason, with seven years of reading-bowl participation under their belts, took to the stage as well.

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