Top four Oregon Battle of the Books elementary teams compete for Jefferson County championship

 - Decked out in their yellow Oregon Battle of the Books T-shirts, a Madras Elementary School team discusses a question during a final school battle last week.

There are some fierce battles going on in local elementary schools.

Teams are going head-to-head to answer questions about characters, plots and authors of eight different books they have been reading since February.

Sixty Jefferson County students in third through fifth grades joined Oregon Battle of the Books. The top four teams will compete in the Jefferson County Oregon Battle of the Books Championship Wednesday morning June 2 on the Performing Arts Center main stage. The tournament will be livestreamed.

"OBOB is a wonderful reading initiative for students and allows them to compete as a team in a tournament atmosphere. A tournament atmosphere would include brackets, challenges, steals, etc.," explained Jefferson County School District 509-J District Librarian Ryan Dempsey, who is helping to coordinate the program for the district.

The Oregon Battle of the Books is a statewide voluntary reading motivation and comprehension program sponsored by the Oregon Association of School Libraries in conjunction with a Library Services and Technology Act grant. Locally, the program is funded through the federal Innovative Approaches to Literacy grant.

OBOB's mission is to encourage and recognize students who enjoy reading, to broaden reading interests, to increase reading comprehension, promote academic excellence, and to promote cooperative learning and teamwork among students.

 - Two Buff Elementary School OBOB teams await the next question during the Family Feud type of competition.Due to COVID and distant learning, the participating students were asked to read eight books, which is half of the 16 books the state provided. Teams consist of four players but can have five, an alternate, in case someone is absent. Teams face each other at the school level and are quizzed on the books' content.

Top teams from Metolius Elementary, Madras Elementary, Buff Elementary and a Jefferson County Library District team will battle Wednesday beginning at 9 a.m. An awards ceremony will conclude the tournament.

Four students joined the library team, 24 Madras Elementary students participated at the school level, and 16 Metolius and 16 Buff students participated. The library team and the winning team from each school qualified for the Jefferson County OBOB Championship.

Madras Elementary School had a team last year but did not compete beyond the school because the regional and state tournaments were canceled due to COVID. Metolius and Buff elementary schools are fielding teams for the first time this year. The library team is comprised of Jefferson County students who are either homeschooled or attending a private school.

Dempsey said the program is the result of a great deal of collaboration between the librarians of 509-J and the librarians of the Jefferson County Library District.

"The librarians of 509-J and the Jefferson County Library District would really like to grow the tournament throughout the county next year," Dempsey said.

Due to COVID and distant learning, Warm Springs was not able to field a team. The district is looking to field a Warm Springs team in 2022, which would be the school's first, similar to Metolius and Buff this year.

"It would be great to have Ashwood, Big Muddy, Black Butte, Camp Sherman and Culver to be a part of it as well," Dempsey said.

If regional and state tournaments were to take place next year, the winner of the Jefferson County OBOB tournament would then go on to compete against teams from Crook, Deschutes, Grant, Wheeler and Harney in a regional tournament with the winner going to state.

"We'd like the event to grow throughout the county," Dempsey said. "The students have very been excited to participate."

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