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Book battle promotes literacy, teamwork  

Byron Center — The stakes were high at Nickels Intermediate’s Battle of the Books competition this year. The annual event is hosted during March is Reading Month, encouraging students to invest time in reading, while practicing their recall skills.

The sixth-grade team and reigning champions from last year’s battle were competing to break the school’s record for the highest final score, while the fifth-graders were out to beat their older competitors and keep them from breaking the record.

The Jeopardy-style battle between the fifth- and sixth-grade teams tested their knowledge with questions of varying levels of difficulty, worth 100 to 500 points. 

Both teams prepared by reading from a list of eight books. Each student could read as many as they wanted but were encouraged to remember specific details about the story’s plot, characters and setting. 

Sixth-grader Silas Buter said he read all eight books and that “Schooled” by Gordon Korman was one of his favorites. His teammates agreed the book was a great read because of its humorous characters.

In the final double jeopardy round, questions were worth 200 to 1,000 points. If a team answered a question wrong, that question’s point value was deducted from their score. 

Nickels’ Principal Tom Trout played Alex Trebek’s role and read the questions out loud. Both teams had to think fast to press their green button first. 

“I don’t think our button is working!” said a concerned sixth-grader.

“It’s working,” a teammate pointed out, ‘We’re just not pushing it fast enough.” 

“The format teaches grade level teams to work collaboratively toward a common goal,” Trout said.

A lesson well learned. After their victory, the sixth-graders said they won because they listened to and trusted one another. One student said their team, as they said, “mashed their brains” to compete together after dividing up the books.  

“We won because of teamwork,” sixth-grader Carter Van Huis said. “We met a few times before this and prepared ourselves. We played like a team and broke the record, and now our final score will go down in the record book.” 

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter covering Byron Center, Caledonia, Godfrey-Lee, Kenowa Hills and Thornapple Kellogg. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News, covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry, before finding her calling in education reporting and landing at SNN. Alexis is also the author of a poetry chapbook, “Learning to Sleep in the Middle of the Bed.”


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