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Reading Bowl takes center stage
As the reading bowl team from Liberty County High School leaves the stage after winning second place senior Clayton Grant raises up the teams trophy
As the Reading Bowl team from Liberty County High School leaves the stage after winning second place Jan. 27, senior Clayton Grant raises the teams trophy. - photo by Photo by Tiffany King

Students took part last week in a quiz-style competition at the Liberty County Performing Arts Center to test their knowledge on books.

Elementary — starting in fourth grade — and middle school students were quizzed on books from the Georgia Book Award Nominees, and high school students were tested on Georgia Peach Teen Book Award nominees.

The 2016 Liberty County School System Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl had a “Star Wars” theme with the phrase “May the answers be with you” and an R2-D2 figure in the main auditorium.

The winners Jan. 27 were Lyman Hall Elementary School, Midway Middle School and Bradwell Institute. Second place winners were Taylors Creek Elementary School, Lewis Frasier Middle School and Liberty County High School. Liberty Elementary won third place.

Each school had a team coached by its respective media specialist. Other school personnel and retired media specialists volunteered as judges and scorekeepers and read the questions. Teams sat on either side of a table and had buzzers to ring in to answer questions. They wished their competitors good luck before the quiz started. Between 10-question rounds, coaches alternated their players. Students were quizzed on a variety of topics like book events, quotes, characters and were asked to explain why certain events happened. Middle schoolers shook hands with opposing teams after competing against that team.

After the competition rounds and scores were tallied, teams, teachers, and family members who came to show their support, gathered in the auditorium to hear the results. Trophies were awarded to first, second and third place. Only the elementary school category gave a third place award. A special, surprise award was given to Liberty County High School senior Clayton Grant for his participation in every Reading Bowl since elementary school.

Kate Gukeisen, LCHS media specialist and the district point of contact for the volunteers, volunteered earlier that morning with the elementary school teams, and in the afternoon coached her own team.

“Reading is important, so I think the Reading Bowl is important. One of the passions and main missions of librarians and media specialists is engendering a love of reading in our students because if you can read and understand, then you will go much farther in life,” she said. “You’ll have a better understanding of everything you come in touch with in the world. So literacy is very close to our hearts.”

She added that encouraging students to share and interact with what they read keeps them excited about reading.

Kayla Hutton, an eighth-grade LFMS student, has competed in the Reading Bowl since fourth grade.

“I love to read and I like the feeling of teamwork and friendship. You form really good bonds when you’re on a team that practices all the time and you all have one thing in common that brings you all together,” Hutton said. “I like fantasy books, with witches, dragons, unicorns and the like. I also like when the child discovers him or herself through a series of events that happens to them, through no fault of their own. Reading books can develop your mind and bring you to an entirely new place, and it can give you a lot of opportunities that other activities can’t.”

First-place teams advance to the Southern Region Bowl on Feb. 13 at Valdosta State University, then the Divisional Bowl on Feb. 27 at Georgia Southern University. The state bowl will be March 19 at the University of Georgia during the Children’s Literature Conference.

Helen Ruffin, who passed away in 2014, was a library media specialist at Sky Haven Elementary School in DeKalb County. She created the reading competition in 1986 to encourage her students to read.

Students across the state in grades four through 12 participate in the competition, which celebrates literacy.

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