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Home > Clerc Center > BattleOfBooks

KDES Wins National Battle of the Books Competition

Image: Clerc Center Vice President Ed Bosso (far left) and KDES Principal Debbie Trapani (far right) stand with eighth graders Eliyas Assefa, Jennida Willoughby, and Zhencheng Chen, and teacher Liza Offreda.

Clerc Center Vice President Ed Bosso (far left) and KDES Principal Debbie Trapani (far right) stand with eighth graders Eliyas Assefa, Jennida Willoughby, and Zhencheng Chen, and teacher Liza Offreda.

Students at Kendall Demonstration Elementary School (KDES) had a storybook ending, winning the second annual national "Battle of the Books" competition for middle school students hosted by Gallaudet University from May 3-5.

The KDES team members were eighth graders Eliyas Assefa, Zhencheng Chen, and Jennida Willoughby. Teacher Liza Offreda served as the team chaperone. In addition to bringing home the championship trophy, KDES won the Team Sportsmanship trophy, Assefa made the all-star team, and Willoughy won the Most Outstanding Player award.

Championship team with trophy

The championship match faced KDES against the Earle B. Wood School from nearby Rockville, Maryland, and was tied entering into the last round. When the game ended, KDES led by one point to win the championship. "My favorite moment was the last match in the final round; the questions gave me lots of energy and excitement," said Willoughby. For Chen, the best moment was "to see my team win and take first place." In the spirit of team solidarity, Assefa said the most special memory for him was "to see my friend Jennida win the Most Outstanding Player award."

Fianal round narrative question

The Battle of the Books competition is designed to promote literacy and encourage critical thinking skills. Students from 16 schools across the country advanced to the nationals, down from the 30 schools that competed in the preliminary and playoff rounds held in January 2014.

The competition is divided into three divisions according to literacy levels. KDES won the Buff division, for which the assigned readings were more advanced than the other two. KDES also had a team compete in the Blue division that did not enter the nationals.

For the nationals, the Buff teams read The Car by Gary Paulsen, Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick, Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai, and One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. Each team developed questions and notes to be shared among their teammates to help prepare one another for the competition, and teachers were not allowed to assist in discussions.

"The competition encourages independent student reading and student-to-student teamwork," said Offreda. "The students were assigned three books to read at home, and during school the teammates met and discussed the books three or four times a week for 50 minutes at a time."

Contest question screen

KDES and the Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD) are both demonstration schools of the Clerc Center. Calling for a double celebration, the KDES victory in the Battle of the Books competition completes a Clerc Center sweep of Gallaudet's youth competitions, with MSSD having won the 2014 Gallaudet University National Academic Bowl in early April.

With Assefa, Chen, and Willoughby moving on to high school this fall, their eyes are set on the next chapter... the National Academic Bowl. However, Offreda hopes they will enjoy their upcoming summer break "by playing outside and, of course, reading lots of books."

Visit the Battle of the Books website to learn more and to see the 2015 competition timeline.

 

Buff Division

  • California School for the Deaf, Riverside
  • Earle B. Wood Middle School
  • Indiana School for the Deaf
  • Kendall Demonstration Elementary School
  • Michigan School for the Deaf
  • Phoenix Day School for the Deaf
  • Rochester School for the Deaf
  • Texas School for the Deaf

Blue Division

  • Illinois School for the Deaf
  • Indiana School for the Deaf
  • Kentucky School for the Deaf
  • Washington School for the Deaf

Green Division

  • California School for the Deaf, Riverside
  • Illinois School for the Deaf
  • Louisiana School for the Deaf
  • Atlanta Area School for the Deaf