• James John and West Sylvan win state titles in Battle of the Books

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     Battle of the Books teams from James John and West Sylvan.

    West Sylvan Middle School's Biblioferrets IV (top) and James John Elementary's Rose City Readers won state championships.

    Two teams from Portland Public Schools won state championships at the Oregon Battle of the Books at Chemeketa Community College in Salem on April 6. James John Elementary School’s team won the title for grades 3-5, and West Sylvan Middle School’s squad prevailed in the 6-8 division.

    James John's team, nicknamed the Rose City Readers, came out of a pool of 56 students who competed in the school’s Battle of the Books. James John won a regional title for the first time and joined three other PPS schools in the 24-team state field, along with Abernethy, Rieke and Duniway.

    In the state format that features a tournament bracket, James John beat Helman of Ashland in the final to win the state title for the first time. James John's team included fifth-grader Zayd Faruqui and fourth-graders Zahra Faruqui, Claire Streib, Brody Reid and Adahlia King.

    “It is amazing to see a team that is both fiercely determined and fiercely supportive of each other,” said James John media specialist Robin Rolfe, who serves as James John coach. “They worked incredibly hard, and the James John community cheered them on the whole way!”

    West Sylvan’s team, nicknamed Biblioferrets IV, won the middle school division with a team comprised of all sixth-graders -- Anna Carlson, Isaac Carlson, Gabriela Hampsey and Valerie Sundberg.

    The team came out of a field of about 100 students who competed in West Sylvan’s Battle of the Books. West Sylvan won regionals for the first time, joining another PPS middle school, Mt. Tabor, in earning a state berth. Biblioferrets IV then topped the 21-team state field, defeating Mountain View of Newberg in the championship match.

    “This team cruised through and won it with ease,” said Jules Angyus, West Sylvian library assistant who serves as coach. “We are very proud of them.”

    Three teams from PPS -- Madison, Lincoln and Wilson—competed at state in the high school division (grades 9-12). Wilson had the deepest run, reaching the final eight.

    The Oregon Battle of the Books started in 2007-08 as a way to broaden students' reading interests, increase reading comprehension and promote academic excellence, cooperative learning and teamwork. It is sponsored by the Oregon Association of School Libraries in conjunction with a Library Services and Technology Act grant. The book list for the 2019-20 Oregon Battle of the Books is available at the competition’s website.