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Eighth graders placed first at Oregon Battle of the Books regional championships. 

Students from Lakeridge Middle School proved they were the team to beat in all things literacy, as they took home first at a recent regional competition.

On Saturday, April 23, eighth graders Cecelia "Ceci'' Hahn, Grace Kriwanek, Alani LoBravo and Maya Naik took home the top prize at the 2022 Oregon Battle of the Books Regional Championships for the sixth-to-eighth grade category — and tied with a Beaverton team for the top score in the state.

Oregon Battle of the Books is a statewide reading competition where students read the same 16 books and are instructed to memorize plotlines and details so that they are prepared to answer content-based trivia questions during the battles.

"It felt like the big moment that we had all been waiting for," Alani said. "I have to admit I was kind of sad (for it to end) because we've been preparing for almost half a year, and this is the end of it. But it was all worth it and we got to that big point that we were trying to achieve."

COURTESY PHOTO: KEN KRIWANEK - The eighth graders put their love of reading to the test and came out on top. The team were not only ranked first in their division but tied for highest score in the state.

The students, who call themselves the "Bibliophiles," are seasoned competitors of the competition and a few of them have been involved since elementary school. At last year's competition, the students were on separate teams for the most part and they decided to rally together after impressing as competitors.

"Ceci and I were on a team last year together, and we went up against Alani and Maya and they were obviously the two best girls on the team, so I wanted them to join us for the next year," said Grace.

During the seven battles, the eighth graders only missed one question. They were also recognized by the OBOB regional managers, who said the team impressed the moderators, staff and other teams with not only their extensive knowledge on the assigned literature but also their sportsmanship.

The team said they tried to boost morale by celebrating the other team's success and performing an original chant about their team.

"(OBOB) is an amazing community of people. It's great to be on a team with your friends, and you work together. And everyone at the competitions supports each other — it's just really fun." Ceci said.

In March, the students participated in a classroom competition where they beat out the rest of their classmates to advance to the regional competition. At regionals, which were held virtually, they battled against teams from Beaverton, McMinnville to Monroe.

The students said they didn't have a specific strategy going into the competition's battles. But while reading the girls tried to soak in as many obscure details as possible, like license plate numbers, hair colors and classroom names. They said this was a pretty successful technique.

Normally, the Lakeridge team would head to the state championship next to battle it out for the state prize, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, OBOB decided not to host it this year.

The team said others should participate in OBOB because it introduces people to new friends and helps amp up your reading skills.

"One tip I have for future readers (of OBOB) is to not stress out about remembering (details) in the moment, because I find that if you actually try to enjoy the book, then you'll end up remembering more than you would have if you were stressing out trying to memorize everything in the moment," Alani said.

The girls hope to compete next year at the high school level. While they wait, they've started their own book club.

"OBOB really brought us together as a friend group and we got to know each other much more, and next year should be fun," Maya said.

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