Ocracoke’s Battle of the Books team, Angela Flores, Jami Martinez, Payce Howarth Zoe Modlin and Essie O’Neal, win the trophy. Photo by Richard Taylor

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By Richard Taylor

Five fourth- and fifth-grade girls collected more hardware for the Dolphin trophy case Friday after besting seven young students from Mattamuskeet Elementary to win the 2019 Hyde County Battle of the Books in the Ocracoke Community Center.

Jami Martinez, Zoe Modlin and Essie O’Neal, of Jeramy Guillory’s fourth grade class, and Angela Flores and Payce Howarth, of Jeanie Owens’ fifth grade class, composed the Dolphin team.

America’s Battle of the Books is a reading incentive program for students in third through 12th grades, sponsored in part by the American Library Association. The competition is similar to the TV series Family Feud or Whiz Kids.

For over an hour Friday, Mattamuskeet Elementary Principal Allison Etheridge quizzed the students about scenes in the books they had read. The members of each team would huddle together to decide on an answer. If one team missed the question, the other school got a chance to provide the right answer.

Mattamuskeet’s larger mixed boys and girls team won the first four rounds.

Ocracoke rallied to win rounds five and six. Total points for correctly answered questions determined the winning team.

Suspense hung over the Community Center as Ocracoke Principal Leslie Cole and two other judges tallied points from the rounds of questions. The verdict: Ocracoke 73, Mattamuskeet 68.

Ocracoke’s girls exploded into exuberant joy, as they admired and clutched the winning trophy presented by Cole.

“I’m so proud of you,” Cole said.  “What a way to end the week.”

Team member Essie O’Neal, fresh from her best-of-show win in the Art category at Thursday’s 4H STEAM competition was all smiles.

“I’m so happy we won,” she said. “I really enjoyed reading all the books.”

Mattamuskeet won last year’s battle. Owens said Ocracoke cannot compete further in the state because it has no full-time library.

Owens, Ocracoke School 2018-2019 Teacher of the Year, organized the local event in conjunction with Ocracoke’s After School program and served as the team’s coach for the second year.

America’s Battle of the Books promotes the enjoyment of reading and to strengthen the curriculum goals in America’s educational environment.

Mattamuskeet Principal Allison Etheridge reads Battle of the Books question to competing 4th and 5th grade teams.
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