Homer Alaska - Schools

Story last updated at 1:55 PM on Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Homer students head to state in Battle of the Books

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer

A three-member team of fifth- and sixth-grade Homer students enrolled in Connections, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District homeschool program, have proven themselves warriors ready for battle. After taking first place for their grade level in the school district's 2013 Battle of the Books for their grade level, the trio is headed for state competition.

"We were not expecting this," said Kristin Metz of Connections, who has been coaching students Iris Downey, grade 5, Teddy Handley, grade 6, and Caleb Holschen, grade 5, since school began in August. "We've met every week and now we'll continue meeting every weekend."

State Battle of the Book meets are scheduled for:

* Feb. 25: High school;

* Feb. 26: Grades 7 and 8;

* Feb. 27: Grades 5 and 6;

* Feb. 28: Grades 3 and 4.

District competition was held telephonically, with one school battling another and the winner of each round progressing to the next round in a bracketed format. Teams were given 16 questions based on the required reading. For the fifth- and sixth-graders, there were 14 books that had been read, read and reread in preparation for the battle. Practice questions on the website for the Alaska Library Association, event sponsor, also helped students prepare. During competition, the three- and four-member teams had 30 seconds to give correct answers.

The Connections team divided their roles, with Teddy and Caleb acting as scribes and writing down the answers and Iris acting as spokesperson. An example of the type of questions they were given was, "In which book does a wig catch on fire and set off an alarm?"

"You have to know the name and author's first and last name," said Metz. "A lot of the questions were really, really detailed. It was amazing."

After five rounds, the three had earned enough points to take first place for KPBSD and to progress to state competition.

Each year's required reading list is chosen during the annual conference of the Alaska Library Association, said Shelly Logsdon of the association. Books for the 2014 battle will be chosen at this year's conference in Valdez on March 22. Students winning the state competition receive an engraved plaque and sweatshirts that declare them to be state champs.

Not expecting to take first at the district level, the Homer Connections teams anticipated being able to pick up some new reading material after last week's battle. That will have to wait.

"They're kind of tired of the books, but their parents said, 'No, you can't go to the library and get a new book. You have to read these again,'" said Metz, laughing.

Winning KPBSD teams that will compete in the state 2013 Battle of the Books include:

* Grades 3-4: Seward Elementary School (West Homer Elementary School took fifth-place);

* Grades 5-6: Homer Connections (West Homer Elementary School took fourth-place):

* Grades 7-8: Soldotna Middle School;

* High school: Kenai Central High School (Voznesenka High School took fourth place).

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben