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Literacy society students work on problem-solving at annual event
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Rori King, 12, a sixth-grader at Jasper Middle, raises her fist in celebration as students from across Georgia solve the final step of the Avengers-style escape room session at the Tome Student Literacy Society's fifth annual TomeCon at the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus on Tuesday, March 13, 2018. The Tome Society is a book club for students in fourth through 12th grade. - photo by Layne Saliba

Students from fourth grade through 12th grade came out in large numbers at the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus for the Tome Student Literacy Society’s fifth annual Tome Conference, which hosted students from across the state on Tuesday, March 13.

An Avengers-style escape room put on by iSchool Initiative was one of the many breakout sessions available to students.

“We believe that the escape room concept has perfected learning and education,” said Brandon Foy, a national sales manager for iSchool Initiative. “Being able to involve critical thinking and problem-solving in a classroom environment, having students have to collaborate and really work on projects together to be able to find the solutions, that’s what we think the learning experience should be like.”

After all the students entered the classroom, they had to work together to solve a puzzle using clues scattered throughout the room. Some clues mattered, and some were simply there to throw the students off.

“I really like superheroes and this was superheroes, so I thought it’d be a lot of fun,” said Catherine Hughes, a seventh-grader from Ashworth Middle School. “Plus, it’s like a challenge and those are fun too.”

Through communicating with each other, the students were able to free Ant-Man, an Avengers superhero, from a small locked box, build a shield using a black light to find which pieces were needed and get the Infinity Stone from a bigger locked box to free Tony Stark, also known as Iron Man, from a trance.

Most of the students in the room didn’t know each other. They may have had a friend or two, but for the most part, they were all strangers. But they all celebrated just the same as they figured out each clue and got closer to the final step.

For Lydia Lord, a seventh-grader at Woodstock Middle School, that was one of the best parts. She said it was “really cool” to work with people she didn’t know. And that’s been the best part of being a part of the Tome Society in general for her, too. She’s been able to gain new friends, especially ones that share the same interests as her.

“A lot of them, I probably wouldn’t have started to hang out with if they hadn’t been in Tome, because I didn’t have a lot of them in my classes,” Lord said. “Apart from one girl, I’ve made a lot of new friends by being a part of Tome.”

The Tome Society is based out of North Georgia but reaches much further to accomplish its goal of “promoting multiple literacies through service, collaboration, competition-based club activities and clean, entertaining, encouraging literature,” according to its website.