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Book battle goes extra rounds

When a contest needs triple overtime to determine a winner, it's usually been well-played and exciting for everyone, and maybe a little luck was involved. That's exactly what happened last Friday morning at the fifth annual Battle of the Books held in the Cloquet High School auditorium.

Fourth-grade students from Cloquet's Washington Elementary, Churchill Elementary, and a group visiting from Ely gathered to compete in front of more than 100 audience members.

After about 40 minutes of competition and the original set of 20 questions completed, two teams were tied at the top of the leaderboard. It was on to overtime questions and heightened intensity, nervousness, excitement, and cheers as both teams matched correct answers on the first two bonus questions.

The Dominators, a team from Washington Elementary, then answered the third extra question completely to earn the victory. Team members included Isla Benson, Milah Baker, Myleigha Hall and Rya Bagne.

"We came here and we were really excited and we were really nervous," said Milah Baker of The Dominators. "We read 12 books. We told people we were going to win and at the end, it turned out we did win. It was a huge tiebreaker, actually three tiebreakers. The hardest question was the last one."

America's Battle of the Books is a national reading incentive program for students in the third through 12th grades. Students read books and then come together to demonstrate their abilities and to test their knowledge of the books they have read. The student competitions are similar to quiz bowl or knowledge bowl styles of competitions.

The reading and teamwork studying for Battle of the Books takes place outside of the regular classroom schedule.

"We meet once a month to discuss and talk and play games regarding the books, we study the authors and do different projects that deepen comprehension," said Jessica Gagne, fourth-grade teacher at Churchill, who served as the event host and moderator. "At the end, the camaraderie of making team shirts and team posters builds team connections."

"I made flashcards and took them home and practiced almost every night," explained Myleigha Hall of The Dominators team about preparing for the competition.

"I did the flashcards, too," added teammate Isla Benson. "We asked if we could be a team with our friends because we work together the best. You have to trust each other when another person disagrees and says something different. You can't get mad at each other. We had a couple disagreements today but we just picked one and wrote it down. We had a few lucky guesses."

"We wrote them down and we were so nervous we were shaking and stuff," added Rya Bagne. "We just got them right."

The fifth annual Battle of the Books was supported through donations from the Cloquet Educational Foundation, the Churchill Partners in Education group, and the Washington Partners in Education group.

"We have done five years of Battle of the Books in Cloquet," said Gagne. "During the stay-at-home time in 2020 we did it virtually and then we took a pause last year. It feels great to be back." Gagne hopes the event will be bigger next year, primarily through adding fifth-graders back to the co-curricular reading program.

"We do so many things to help our students reach the reading standards," said Gagne of the Cloquet school district's effort to teach students to read well. "It really has been great to help kids who love reading; we can celebrate them and give them an opportunity to shine and celebrate books."

"Our goal is to spread that love and get that energy to all fourth-graders," she continued. "Along the way they can hone in on their reading comprehension skills. Some of these books are pretty advanced, and it gives them a variety of genres to discover. Maybe it introduces the students to another author, or introduces them to historical fiction. It opens the doors for them to explore other books."

America's Battle of the Books is a voluntary reading incentive program with the simple purpose to encourage students to read good books and have fun while competing with peers. America's Battle of the Books offers resources to students, parents, public and private schools, librarians, home schools, and international schools. (www.battleofthebooks.org)


Battle of the Books


The Dominators



Isla Benson

Milah Baker

Myleigha Hall

Rya Bagne


The Frozen Flowers

Churchill Elementary

Ellie Pederson

Teagan Malloy

Isabel Nelson

Evie Krikava

Khloe Wilson


Dork Dudes



Will Buytaert

Kayson Karppinen

Dominic Mondati

Book Worms



Mareike Rosebrock

Brisa Nelis

Teagyn Roberts

Eli Shabiash

Other teams



Thee Reading

Rockstars (Churchill)

Smiley Arctics


The Fortnite Trio


The Wolf Pack


Space Explosions


Book Cats


Book Crushers