Reading bowl team earns third place in annual competition


Maddie Sullivan

The Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl team won third place for the second time in a row on Saturday, January 19. The team welcomes avid readers to read books from the Georgia Peach Teen Book list during the first semester of the school year and test their knowledge of those books in January. “This was my first year participating in [Reading Bowl] and honestly it was a great experience. I got to meet new people and discover new authors, some of which have become my favorites… At first I didn’t know what to expect from the competition but in the end it was really fun and exciting. I’m really glad I joined and I’m looking forward to [participating] again next year,” junior Luis Ponce said.

Erin Grier, Reporter

The Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl Team competed in their annual competition at Kell High School on Saturday, January 19. Walton won first place, with South Cobb following in  second and NC in third place for the second year in a row.

“[They were] the best prepared this year that I have ever seen,” English teacher and Coach of the Reading Bowl team Renee Brown said.

Members of the Helen Ruffin reading Bowl team read the 20 Georgia Peach Book Award winners during the school year and answer questions about the books at a competition with six rounds against other high schools. Moderators ask the teams 10 questions in each round, and players use buzzers to submit their answers. The teams earn 10 points for each correct answer.

Erin Grier
Devyn Maurer and team captains Maddie Sullivan and Ally Ward carry NC’s banner in the parade of teams to kick off the competition. Juniors Sullivan and Ward began participating in reading bowl in eighth grade at Barber Middle School. Their love of reading led them to revamp the Reading Bowl team at NC. They will compete for the last time next year, and they hope to win first place and continue on to regionals. “I’m so sad that next year is my last year!! I almost feel like this club is my baby and I’m a little nervous to pass it on to the next people, but I know it’ll live on. I’m hoping we will place again next year and get another trophy under our name!” Sullivan said.

In the first round, NC went up against Osborne and won 40-10. Afterward, the Warriors beat Campbell 50-20. A student from Campbell challenged the accuracy of the last question in the round, but the moderator overruled the challenge and it did not affect the score. Next, NC won round three against Kell 60-20. Wheeler lost to NC 50-10 in round four, but NC tied with McEachern 20-20 in round five. In the end, Walton beat NC 60-10 in the final round of the competition.

Junior Maddie Sullivan, captain of the team, assigned each member four books from the list at the beginning of the school year to ensure that the team could answer all of the questions in each round.

“The easiest part is reading because the books are always really awesome, up and coming books. The hardest part is definitely making sure everyone gets the books they want, but they will still read the ones they’re assigned,” Sullivan said.

After serving on the selection committee for the Georgia Children’s Book Award nominee program in 1985, Helen Ruffin, a media specialist from Dekalb county, created the competition to encourage her students to read and teach students to appreciate literature.

Today, students in grades four through twelve participate in the statewide competition. Ms. Brown brought the Reading Bowl to NC nine years ago, at AP Psychology teacher Melanie Shelnutt’s request.

Each team is allowed up to ten people, with only five competitors and five alternates. NC’s Reading Bowl team grew from 6 to 7 in the past year. In Sullivan’s first competition on NC’s team, only three people competed, including herself. Sullivan constantly seeks new members who enjoy reading books of varying genres. The close-knit team met each Monday last semester. In addition to practicing with buzzers for the competition, the team also liked to discuss the books they read. “It’s also hard sometimes to make sure the practices are productive but it’s still a lot of fun and I enjoy it!” Sullivan said.

“My daughter was on Awtrey’s [Reading Bowl] team in the seventh grade, and they won. I had never seen a Reading Bowl [before]. Melanie said, ‘Renee, why don’t we have a team?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know. We’re gonna start one! I’m gonna do it!’ And that’s what started it,” Brown said.

Brown considered ending NC’s participation in the Reading Bowl last school year due to lack of participation, but Sullivan and junior Ally Ward saved the club by recruiting new members and implementing a new reading system. Their leadership led to NC placing for the first time in four years. Last year, the team earned 130 points overall. This year, they increased their overall score to 240 points.

As an avid reader herself, Brown encourages her students to read because she believes it fosters discipline and responsibility in their everyday lives, making them better students overall.

“[My favorite part of being coach is] the day of competition and getting to watch the excitement in [my students’] eyes when they do well. I’m so proud of [them],” Brown said.