Originally Published The Nugget NewsSMSBattleOfTheBooks March 15, 2016

Sisters Middle School was teeming with young readers of all ages on Saturday, March 12. An epic battle was joined, involving students from throughout the greater Central Oregon region. Book titles were tossed like grenades, arsenals of author’s names flew like arrows, and highly detailed facts from some of today’s best books became the weapons of choice in hand-to-hand combat between the teams.

And one Sisters team did well enough to qualify to travel to state competition.

According to its website, Oregon Battle of the Books (OBOB) 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. Students in third through 12th grade, regardless of ability, are exposed to quality literature representing a variety of literary styles and viewpoints. The 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.”

By the end of the day, all squads felt the weariness of the clash, but also the satisfaction of good teamwork and true sportsmanship, according to event organizer and Sisters Middle School teacher Deb Riehle.

“One thing I love is how intense each battle is, and how exhausted they are afterwards, like a true competition of any kind,” she said. “These teams of kids work very hard and compete very hard as well. It is so special.”

Sisters hosted the event for the first time, which included elementary, middle, and high school teams from Redmond, Bend, Tumalo, La Pine and even as far away as Fossil.

Teams of four compete head-to-head against one another in tournament style. Points are accrued during the first two rounds to determine what teams will advance on to the finals, culminating in the top two teams from each division going on to a statewide competition.

A moderator reads the questions, and teams are given 15 seconds to answer. Two judges are present to help resolve any questions or disputes.

Each round consists of two types of questions pulled from a collection of books. First, students are given a factual question from a book and must give the title and the author of the book from which it comes. Secondly, they are asked to give factual answers from a given book. Points are awarded for correct answers. If one team fails to answer a question, the other team has an opportunity to “steal” those points.

A complete list of the books used for the competition can be found at the OBOB website, http://oboblsta.pbworks.com

Riehle brought the Battle of the Books contest to Sisters Middle School three years ago when she arrived after working at Tumalo Community School. Tiffany Tisdel, a fifth-grade teacher, and Kathy Few from the elementary school were instrumental in building up the program, according to Riehle. Eighth-grade teacher Kimberly Strong jumped on board last year as well. After last year’s competition, Sisters became excited to have the opportunity to host the event this year.

“And we hosted it in true Sisters style,” said Riehle, indicating that all sorts of teachers and community members stepped in to help make it all happen.

In addition to Strong, Tisdel and Few, Riehle wanted to acknowledge the support of middle school staff members, students, and principal Marshall Jackson, as well as volunteer organizers Kerry Prosser and Sherri Kissinger.

“It’s amazing how the Sisters community and our schools came together to make this happen,” said SisterMiddle School teacher Susie Werts, who served as a timekeeper.

Sisters Middle School’s fifth-grade team finished in second place and will compete at the state level on April 9 in Salem, according to Riehle.

“That just topped the day off well,” she said.