Cougar Run students take Battle of the Books

Districtwide book bee quizzes students on plots, characters, themes

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It all led to this moment: the team of five Cougar Run Elementary fifth- and sixth-grade students posing with a silver trophy and ear-to-ear smiles and a banner that read “Mission Accomplished.”

For six months, those students and eight other teams from around the Douglas County School District practiced and prepared for this, the district finals of Battle of the Books, a spelling bee-type trivia contest based on 10 children's novels for students from third to sixth grade. This Cougar Run team edged out Parker Core Knowledge in the championship round of the Battle of the Books March 27.

The team, some of them strangers in October, practiced tirelessly for this competition. They voluntarily missed recess and spent hours reading, and reading, and reading. Jennifer Bosley, a volunteer coach for the team, said most read each of the 10 books six times through. Leading up to the finals, the team practiced every day.

“They've gotten to know each other a lot better. They've gotten to know each other's quirks and personalities and it's just fun to watch them gel,” Bosely said.

The Battle of the Books is a districtwide book trivia tournament open to all of Douglas County. This year was the 10th season of the competition. The program is active at 48 schools in Castle Rock, Lone Tree, Parker and Highlands Ranch. Roughly 1,000 kids participate each year. Library staff help facilitate the programs. The event is put on by Douglas County Libraries.

In the third- and fourth-grade group, Heritage (Highlands Ranch) and Frontier Valley (Parker) made it to the semi-final round. DCS Montessori (Castle Rock) took the top spot over Redstone (Lone Tree) in the finals. The fourth- and fifth-grade Redstone team also made the semi-finals, as did Clear Sky (Castle Rock).

“Not all kids are meant to be, or want to be, athletes,” said Kerri Morgan, head of special events at Douglas County Libraries. “Battle of the Books gives those kids the opportunity to represent their schools with pride, and to be able to participate in a competitive event that doesn't require athletic ability.”

The banner the Cougar Run team posed with in their celebratory photo came from, unsurprisingly, a funny story summary they read while competing: “The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp” by Kathi Appelt. In the story, raccoons tried to save a swamp from a man trying to turn it into an alligator and pony show. The raccoons became the team's mascot -- "Mission Accomplished."

“I bring out a piece of paper about team, and how it takes the T-E-A-M to bring you all together, and they have to find that,” said Wendy Jo Woody, the Cougar Run librarian and Battle of the Books coach. “They came in not being best friends. We said, `If you can bring that together, you guys can go very far.'”

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