Riverside’s Battle of the Books takes second place

From top left, clockwise: Lela Hazelrigg, Ethan Haine, Mitchell Brennan, Vivian Brennan, Elizabeth Flowe, Ada Bridgers, Rachel Kirsch, Sky Pearce, Dr. Tara Gold, Avery Howard, Gene Ackerman, Grace Lowder, Paisley Russell, Milo Thomas, Jack Weinard, Ms. Jenna Wine. Photo courtesy of: Jenna Wine

Riverside’s Battle of the Books team placed second in the district competition on February 24. 

Battle of the Books (BOB) is a national voluntary reading program for students in third to twelfth grade. After reading books from a given list, teams compete in a “battle” that consists of multiple rounds, where students answer questions about the books they have read.

“It’s a competition about knowledge of books,” said sophomore Avery Howard. “You ask questions like ‘in which book does a character sing a song about pandas.’ And then you have to guess which book it is of the list of 16 provided books.”

There were seven teams from Durham competing in the district competition, each team playing in different rounds. The winner of districts advances to regionals, with the final stage being states.

“We practiced every week since pretty early in the school year,” Howard said. “We did some practice at lunches and then we would talk about books together.”

Riverside media coordinator Jenna Wine served as the team coach. She started working with the BOB team in 2021.

On the day of the competition, the Riverside team went to the media center at the beginning of the school day. They then took a bus to the competition location, the DPS staff development center.

“We waited for the teams to arrive… then we all went to our respective rooms,” Howard said. “Then we moved around rooms depending on the round we were in.”

The Pirates lost a close struggle against Durham School of the Arts, who advanced to regionals.

“We have placed second in [each of] the past two years, but I’m pretty sure we have been second place for a couple of years before then,” Wine said. “I know that we have won once because of the trophy [in the media center].”

The last time Riverside won the district competition was in 2018.

“I think they did very well,” Wine said. 

The team consisted mostly of the same students, with a few additions this year. 

“They get along really well, and they are really good at communicating with each other,” Wine said.

Wine believes that the largest obstacle that the students face when competing is self-doubt. 

“I know they get very into their heads sometimes,” she said. “For [the coaches] we can see the scores at all times, so we know how we’re doing, we know what’s going on… That’s the one thing we may have to work on in the future.”

Wine also recognized the team’s strengths.

“Overall, they are great and really respect each other, and listen to each other,” Wine said. “This is a match about knowing answers. So sometimes one person knows all the answers all the time but one time maybe doesn’t, then there’s some people who may be quieter do know the right answer.”

Wine also said that the feel of the competition is different compared to when the team was online. 

“We had a lot more community, being in person, than we did last year,” she said. “It was really nice to be around everybody else this year.”

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