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NHS Battle of the Books teams heading to state competition

Published: Friday, April 21, 2017 10:07 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, April 21, 2017 12:09 p.m. CDT
(Submitted Photo)
The Alexandrians are one of two NHS teams competing in the 2017 Grand Battle of the Books in Marshalltown on April 26. Back row: Briahna Teague, Emma Carter, Isaac Friedman; Front row: Zoya Urbanowicz, Sierra Livengood and Daniel Lopez-Sanders.

Battle of the Books doesn’t receive the same level of attention as varsity athletics, but the students involved in the reading competition work just as hard to fine-tune their skills.

Two of Newton High School’s Battle of the Books teams qualified for the Grand Battle. The statewide competition is set for Wednesday in Marshalltown and will feature Iowa’s top 16 squads.

Seventy-seven groups competed this year, and three teams from Newton finished in the top 20. Two of those teams, Better Read Than Dead and the Alexandrians, cracked the top 4 in the qualifying test.

Better Read Than Dead, the veteran team, finished fourth in the state. The team will compete in its third Grand Battle this year. The team is made up of Megan Shores, Alex Doepp, Alia Smith, Anna Andersen and Emily Bollhoefer.

The Alexandrians, who missed last year’s state competition by one question, finished second in Iowa in qualifiers. Briahna Teague, Emma Carter, Isaac Friedman, Zoya Urbanowicz, Sierra Livengood and Daniel Lopez-Sanders form the group.

Ann Nelson, NHS library media specialist and Battle of the Books coach, said the teams started hitting the books hard in December. They are responsible for knowing the ins and outs of nearly 30 books. The members divide the reading duties equally among themselves.

“I’m so proud of these kids because this is hard,” Nelson said. “They do it on their own. They read all of these books, and we just quiz and quiz and quiz.”

Some of the questions asked at the state level are difficult and require knowledge of minor characters in the books. Newton’s teams meet regularly during their lunch hours to go over rapid-fire practice questions with Nelson, who read all of the books on the list.

NHS had four teams this year. Up to six members can be on a team. Some students start Battle of the Books in middle school. Other students, Nelson said, just love to read and end up forming teams.

Iowa High School Battle of the Books was started by two Marshalltown teachers during the 2007-2008 school year. The book list is created from a selection of award-winning titles from the previous year.

The online battle to qualify was in March. It included one multiple choice question from every book on the list. The teams must also know all the author names and book titles.

For the Grand Battle, the 16 teams will compete in four rounds of short-answer questions. The top four teams will advance to the final round, which will be held in a game-show format to determine the champions.

The Grand Battle will be held at Marshalltown AEA267. Registration starts at 9 a.m., and competition will get started just after 10 a.m.

Contact Justin Jagler at 641-792-3121 ext 6532 or jjagler@newtondailynews.com

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