‘Happy Hippos’ team wins 3rd annual Battle of the Books

Photos by Jon Allred | About 45 elementary students took part in this year’s reading competition. Below, the 2019 Battle of the Books winning team, “The Happy Hippos,” included participants Bryan Hernandez, Alexander Mendez and Team Captain Mateo Ibarra.

Santa Lucia competition shows students’ love of reading

KING CITY — Santa Lucia Elementary School completed its third annual “Battle of the Books” reading competition May 30.

Battle of the Books was started almost 30 years ago in a small rural school district in Belridge, Calif., as a way to support students’ love of reading. After sweeping through schools in Kern County, it took off across the rest of the United States.

Students are challenged to read 10 titles from a list of books that are pre-determined. This year Santa Lucia had more than 80 students commit to reading the books.

By the end of a two-month period, about 45 third through fifth graders had met this challenge and were then divided up by teams of three. Together, they created a team banner and chose a team captain.

On the morning of the big day, 16 teams competed in the first round. The second round had the eight winning teams from round one competing. By round three, all but two teams had been eliminated. After lunch the “Grand Battle” was held on the outdoor stage.

The final winning team was “The Happy Hippos,” consisting of participants Bryan Hernandez, Alexander Mendez and Team Captain Mateo Ibarra.

Other competitors this year included: Julissa Caballero, Jose Calihua, Santiago Garcia, Derek Monteagudo, Daniel Trujillo, Crystal Paramo, Fernanda Sanchez, Emanuel Cruz, Marely Chavez, Leslie Ramirez, Alexa Macias, Brianna Martinez, Zuleica Flores, Kaylin Arvizu, Alejandra Acero, Cris Tapia, Kimberly Ferreira, Kimberly Gonzales, Daniel Cruz, Erynne Alatorre, Grisel Guzman, Melanie Velasco, Denise Nahhas, Angie Santana, Yosleney Alcaraz, Kimberly Gomez, Ana Mosqueda, Nancy Juarez, Joaquin Sabala, Yaritzy Ramirez, Isaac Mosqueda, Gizelle Huerta, Roslin Perez, Antonio Matias, Ernesto Aguirre, Zireth Casamiro, Erik Carreno, Armando Villasenor, Jose Rodriguez, Isabella Flores, Jose Garcia, Samantha Reyes, Max Silva, Michael Romero, Andrea Rios and Alexis Merino.

“Battle of the Books could not happen without the help of many hardworking individuals,” said Santa Lucia Librarian Denise Donham. “Santa Lucia third-grade teachers form a committee at the beginning of the year and work all year to make the ‘Grand Battle’ possible.”

This year’s team lead was third-grade teacher Suzanne Mallory.

In addition to staff members, volunteers from the community acted as the officials, reading the questions to students and running the timer. Volunteers this year included Rosie Camarillo, Millie Dodd, Janette Domingos, Carol Hernandez, Luis Ibarra, Susan King, James Myers, Jose Perez, Ken Reese, Jessie Serrano and Stella Williams.

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