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Enota seeks Reading Bowl glory Saturday in Athens

POSTED: March 10, 2008 5:00 a.m.
TOM REED/The Times

Media Specialist Andrea Gilbert, foreground, works with the Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy Reading Bowl team as students practice for an upcoming competition.

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They’ve had to devour details in the books they read. On Saturday, they’ll have to be equally skilled in pressing a buzzer.

Students on Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy’s Reading Bowl team are headed to the University of Georgia in Athens, where they’ll compete in the Sixth Annual Georgia Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl.

They will compete against Still Elementary School in Cobb County, Joseph Martin Elementary School in Liberty County and Kittredge Elementary School in DeKalb for the state title.

The competition, sponsored by the Georgia Association of Educators, the Georgia Library Media Association and the Georgia Children’s Book Award program, also features four middle and four high schools seeking championships.

The 10-member Enota team earned its place at the competition by winning a regional competition Feb. 9 at Augusta State University. Centennial Arts Academy and Gainesville Middle School, also in the city system, each placed second at the regional event.

But only first-place teams advance to the finals, named after Helen Ruffin, a DeKalb media specialist who created the reading bowl in her district.

Enota students have practiced after school for the event with their coach, media specialist Andrea Gilbert.

"It has been a wonderful team," Gilbert said. "They have bonded. They really care about each other. ... I think their bonding has added to their knowledge."

The students are fourth-graders Emmeline Jones and Madeline Robinson and fifth-graders Georgia Summer, Ella Vardeman, Charlie Simpson, Jonathan Perez, Emilie Gille, Noah Nutter, Nolen Bryant and Baxter Geyer.

Gilbert started the team after attending conferences and noticing that a group from DeKalb County always presented a workshop on the bowl competition.

"I think I went to their workshops three or four times over about a three- or four-year period and finally I asked so many questions that ... one of the (DeKalb presenters) looked at me and said, ‘Are you just afraid to do it?’" Gilbert said.

Deciding to take the leap, she started the program three years ago, with just 10 students trying out for the team.

Last year, the school’s team won its first regional title and went to state, where it placed third out of four teams.

This year, 37 students tried out for the team.

In the competition, elementary and middle school students have to read the 2007-08 Georgia Children’s Book Award nominees and high schoolers must read the Georgia Peach Teen Readers’ Choice Award nominees.

The elementary books are no quick, easy reads. One of the books, "The Book of Story Beginnings," by Kristin Kladstrup, has 360 pages.

"You must know how to read and love to read," Gilbert said. "That’s why I wanted to start something like this — to celebrate reading for these children who do and can."

The students said they were excited, although a bit nervous, about the competition.

"There’s a kind of pressure, because if you get one (answer) wrong, then all the people in the classroom (where the event is held) are looking at you, and that’s more pressure," Jonathan said. "But later you can control (nerves) more with a little experience."

The students said they had to battle nerves while their coach could sit on the sidelines and smile.

Gilbert begged to differ. She said she sits perspiring while her team tries to buzz in first with correct answers.

"You don’t know anything they will ask," she said. "When I sit there and listen, I couldn’t do it."


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