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April 22, 2010

Book battle: Otter Creek prevails as Vigo middle schoolers gather for annual Battle of the Bookws

Students quizzed on knowledge on 20 Young Hoosier books

TERRE HAUTE — It all came down to the final dramatic round.

Two Vigo County middle schools, Otter Creek and Sarah Scott, faced off for the championship of the “Battle of the Books” Thursday morning. They were the last two schools standing after a morning of competition.

The Vigo County School Corporation’s “Battle of the Books” requires teams of five students from each school to answer questions based on 20 books selected by the Indiana Association of Media Educators. Teams only have 10 seconds to answer the questions. The team correctly answering the most questions wins.

Round one of the single-elimination competition, which took place in the gymnasium of West Vigo Middle School, pitted West Vigo against Otter Creek. Otter Creek won by the close score of 68-64.

“I wish we would have won,” said West Vigo sixth-grader Mary Curley, who was among the five students representing her team in the competition. Each team also included several alternates.

“We’re very competitive,” noted Shelby Edington, another member of the West Vigo squad.

Next, Woodrow Wilson Middle School topped Honey Creek 72-44. And Sarah Scott advanced out of the first round by defeating Chauncey Rose in a close contest, 68-60.

This is the first year all six Vigo County middle schools participated in the Battle of the Books, said West Vigo team coach and librarian Pam Gasway. This was the first year West Vigo Middle School participated, she noted.

The books the students read included fiction and nonfiction titles and covered a large variety of subjects, Gasway said. Some students read all 20. Others focused on a smaller number, she said.

Sarah Scott drew a bye for the second round and awaited the winner of Woodrow Wilson versus Otter Creek for the championship round. Otter Creek defeated Wilson, but only after a challenge to one of the answers resulted in an additional five minutes of questions.

Books in the competition included titles such as “Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf,” “The Ultimate Weapon,” “Giving up the Ghost,” “One-handed Catch” and “Listen.” All of the books were nominated for the 2009-2010 Young Hoosier Book Award.

The questions required students to know details from each book, such as “In which book does a character get a rash from an apricot mud mask?” In addition to naming the correct book, the students were also required to state the name of the book’s author with each answer.

In the final round, the lead went back and forth several times between Sarah Scott and Otter Creek. Then, about midway through the 10-minute round, Otter Creek took a slim lead and managed to stay in front until the end, taking the victory 100-84.

“I’m very happy for them,” said Nelda Gates, media specialist at Otter Creek and coach of the championship team. “They’ve worked hard all year long.”

This is the second year in a row Otter Creek has taken the Battle of the Books title.

“We’ve got a dynasty,” Gates said, smiling. “They love to read and they are competitive. So you put the two together and they are happy.”

Members of the Otter Creek team included Kirsten Lewis, Darec Longfellow, Jamie Macklem, Heidi Mattick, Sierra Wiles and first alternate Anna Nagy.

Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or

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