Battle of the Books

County middle-schoolers test knowledge on Thursday

Middle school students from around the Warren County School District gathered at the Warren Public Library on Thursday for this year’s edition of Battle of the Books.

It was an awfully quiet battle but a battle nonetheless.

About 50 middle school students from Beaty-Warren Middle School, Youngsville, Eisenhower and Sheffield gathered at the Warren Public Library on Thursday to test their knowledge on a series of books.

It was a new experience for a couple dozen of the participants to have a school years’ worth of reading tested.

One of two teams from Beaty – Ashlynn Zawacki, Anna Dysinger, Rory McBriar, Rogue Buchanan, Joanna Bennett, Ganesa Marie Brucker, Nina Woldt, Addison Lilley, Chalina Abreu and Cecilia Gregg – each won a medal, the opportunity to take a book home with them and earned a plaque for their school.

This year, there were a total of 12 books on the reading list that made up the targets in Thursday’s battle.

Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton A team of middle schoolers from Beaty-Warren Middle School took first place in Thursday’s middle school Battle of the Books held at the Warren Public Library. The winning team included Ashlynn Zawacki, Anna Dysinger, Rory McGriar, Rogue Buchanan, Joanna Bennett, Ganesa Marie Brucker, Nina Woldt, Addison Lilley, Chalina Abreu and Cecilia Gregg.

Tiffany Mandeville, the WCSD’s English language Arts Curriculum Coordinator, said that the books come from multiple sources, including from reading lists across the country or books that the Library identifies as on the “Pa. Young Readers” list.

This year presented a varied list.

Non-fiction titles included books on Muhammad Ali, the Johnstown Flood and fleeing North Korea while fiction genres included gothic fantasy, humor, science fiction and humor.

Each team – two teams from Beaty and one each from Youngsville, Sheffield and Eisenhower – were presented a series of eight questions on each book. They were able to work together on their answers but had to do so quietly so other nearby teams couldn’t hear their answers.

Not every student read every book, so teams depended on different members in different rounds.

And the day was more than just a series of quizzes.

Mandeville said the day would start with a “Puzzle Palooza” where students from different schools were intermixed and then given a series of puzzles including riddles, math problems and English skills.

Teams then completed five quizzes before lunch, which was followed by what Mandeville called a series of “stations with artsy projects.”

That included a bookmark coloring station, a large sticker puzzle, making book corners as well as learning book folding.

This year’s participants get a say in next year’s book list.

Mandeville walked the students through a “book tasting” exercise where they were asked to ran a book based on their first impression and whether they would like to see it on next year’s list.

She joked that provides a way that the students “can’t blame me when that book is on the book list.”

The Battle of the Books competition used to be held regionally at Gannon University but that was thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The competition shifted to a district-wide quiz held at central office and expanded to include the puzzles and craft options last year.


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