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Students compete at TomeCon literary event at UNGs Gainesville campus
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Students draw scenes from comic books Tuesday during the class “The Art of Comics” at the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus during the annual literary conference TomeCon. - photo by SCOTT ROGERS

For some, the TomeCon literary conference is the Super Bowl.

“It’s for kids who love reading,” said Becca Hamby, founder of Tome Student Literacy Society. Hamby is also the media specialist at East Hall High School.

Students from across the state met up at the conference to compete in the Reading Bowl, learn from workshops and receive awards for their yearlong efforts Tuesday at the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus.

“It’s where book clubs can all come together and meet other clubs, too,” Hamby said.

The hard work of kids like Colton Jans and Ella Terrell paid off this year.

Both students participated in the Reading Bowl for Wauka Mountain Multiple Intelligences Academy’s club and took home first place with their classmates.

Wauka Mountain’s media specialist Laura Smith and fifth-grader teacher Lynn Staples worked with 19 kids all year to prepare them.

“It’s been fun,” Smith said. “They just love books, love discussing them.”

Jans, 11, loves action books like “Fuzzy Mud” by Louis Sachar because they put him in the middle of the action.

“It was very suspenseful. You didn’t know what was going to happen,” said Jans, a fifth-grader at Wauka Mountain.

Terrell prefers adventure books that she can see herself in. Terrell’s mother Laura Terrell and grandmother Peggy Gilstrap were at TomeCon to support her.

“This is what she loves to do. I was really excited there was a club and society for her to be a part of,” Laura Terrell said.

Staples said it’s a good way for kids who aren’t athletic to have their chance to shine.

“It gives them that thrill of competition,” Staples said.

Beginning in August, the students competing in the competition read six books and practiced potential questions. Every two months or so, a digital test was given. The overall points for the school must reach a certain range to compete in the bowl.

The competition took place Tuesday afternoon at UNG. The schools used buzzers to answer 10 questions about the books worth 10 points each.

Mount Vernon Exploratory School took second and Lakeview Academy third for elementary schools. The bowl is also open to middle and high school students, and Flowery Branch High School placed third in its bowl.

Twelve Hall County schools, Gainesville Middle, Gainesville High and Lakeview Academy also participated, Hamby said. Altogether, 750 people, including 550 students, attended.

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