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Students compete in reading bowl

Buzzers sounded quickly as elementary, middle and high-school students fielded questions in a reading bowl competition Saturday.

Twenty-two Newton County schools competed in the sixth annual Newton County Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl at Newton High School.

The reading bowl, open to students in grades 4-12 across the state, is a competition in game format that tests students’ knowledge of selected books. Team members were required to read books that were Georgia Children’s Book Award nominees (elementary and middle schools) or Georgia Peach Book Award nominees

Coaches and team members put in hours of reading and practicing in preparation for the event.

At the reading bowl, parents, teachers and community residents watched in a number of classrooms as students competed in a total of five to six rounds. Cumulative points for all rounds determined the winners at each school level.

Two middle schools went down in NCSS reading bowl history as they had the first-ever tie score in the competition. Team members from Cousins Middle and Newton County Theme School at Ficquett were on edge as they competed in a tie-breaker game with an additional round of questions. In the end, the Theme School won by one correct answer.

After competing, students filed into the NHS auditorium, where award winners were announced. At the elementary school level, Flint Hill Elementary won first place, and Mansfield Elementary placed second. Among middle schools, Cousins came in second, just behind the Theme School. At the high school level, Newton High won first place, and Alcovy finished second.

The first- and second-place teams at each level – elementary, middle, and high school– will go on to the divisional level competition at Clayton State University in February. Winners from the divisional level may progress to regional and state competitions.

"We are so proud of all of our student participants today. This is a great opportunity for students to compete in another manner outside of athletics. So we are very proud of them," said NCSS Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey. "We would also like to say thank you to all the teachers, coaches, administrators, parents and community leaders for their support on this excellent, awesome day."

According to information from the DeKalb County School System, Helen Ruffin, a library media specialist at Sky Haven Elementary School in DeKalb, served on the selection committee for the Georgia Children’s Book Award nominee program in 1985. The literature program, which began in the Department of Language Education at the University of Georgia’s College of Education, inspired her to use the nominated books to encourage her students to read.

Ruffin created a unique reading competition in game format using the award nominees, calling it the Reading Bowl. Her vision was to have teams of students from different schools compete to test their knowledge of the selected books. Today, the Georgia Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl is open to students in grades 4-12 across the state.

This year’s competition marked the 15th annual countywide contest.