Contest tests Caldwell County students' literature knowledge

Mar. 20, 2013 @ 07:29 AM

Young voices echoed off the walls. The fourth- and fifth-grade children fidgeted in their seats, chatted excitedly with friends and waved to nearby parents or other relatives.

It could have been any school assembly, but for the uniforms.

The color coding marked small clusters as teams. West Lenoir Elementary: black T-shirts. Valmead: a yellow tie-dye pattern. Lower Creek: teal.

And many of the schools’ shirts had logos hinting at the kind of teams these were, among them: “BOOK NERD” (in which the O’s in book were glasses), “got books?” and a cartoon image of serious, even angry-looking books with boxing gloves.

And the students got serious-looking too, once the Caldwell County Schools Elementary Battle of the Books got under way.

The teams representing the county’s 15 elementary schools had read and studied 17 books. Through a day-long series of head-to-head competitions, they were asked questions about the books and had to identify both the title of the book and the name of the author.

The rules on providing answers were almost as strict as those on TVs “Jeopardy!” Talking with teammates too early, the wrong teammate delivering the answer, even leaving out an "a" or "the" in a book's title all carried consequences.

Teams had their own chemistries and energies. Some, such as the one from Davenport A+ Elementary, conferred energetically in loud whispers, children nodding forcefully. Others were more low-key, the whispers quiet.

Correct answers and team wins brought broad smiles.

Incorrect answers brought a few children to the verge of tears, heads hung low or cradled in their hands.

When the day ended, Davenport was named the winner. Davenport also won last year, making the school the first to win the 7-year-old competition more than one time.

As the trophies were awarded (Happy Valley's team finished second, Baton's third and Gamewell's fourth) and students from all of the teams stood to receive certificates, no heads hung low.