• Battle of the Books, Math Masters, and Math Elite competitions teach students about reading and math and so much more

    Some students enjoy reading good books, and some prefer to work on math problems.  Fortunately, a love of both subjects can be found in three academic competitions that take the stage every spring in Gaston County Schools.

    Events like Battle of the Books at the elementary school, middle school, and high school levels; Math Masters at the elementary school level; and Math Elite at the middle school level provide an opportunity for students to embrace their strengths in reading and math. 

    The competitions pit school teams against each other, answering a series of questions and earning points for correct answers.  The game-like format is a fun way for students to challenge themselves while competing against others.

    “I always get nervous at first,” said Mackenzie Hart, an eighth grader who is on the Battle of the Books team for Stanley Middle School.

    Nervousness is a feeling shared by many of the participants, but once the competition gets underway and the teams settle into the “battle,” the nervousness is replaced with excitement as the students focus on showing off their knowledge.  

    “You get more comfortable as it goes on,” said Hart.  “I love reading so this is a great way to combine that with getting to spend time with my friends, too.  We make a great team and have worked really hard to get to where we are.”

    In addition to testing their math and reading skills, students learn how to work as a team and solve problems together.  The competition also requires a hefty dose of knowledge, strategy, and calmness under pressure. 

    Tabatha Woods, who is the Math Masters coach for Gaston Virtual Academy, said competitions like this are important to help students learn skills that will benefit them in the future. 

    “Math Masters, Battle of the Books, and Math Elite build student engagement, a sense of community, and school pride, too,” said Woods.  “The events foster collaboration among students, which will help them throughout their school careers.”

    Woods points out that the lessons learned by students extend far beyond the end of the competition. 

    Ann Davis, who is the media specialist at Grier Middle and coaches the school’s Battle of the Books team, says she has seen significant growth in her students since beginning to prepare for the big event.  When the competition concludes, Davis says her students want to continue to learn and start focusing on next year.

    “They’ve already asked me, ‘Once Battle of the Books is over, can we keep going?’” Davis said.  “I promised them that we’ll keep meeting and we’ll keep reading new books.  That makes me feel proud that they want to continue to read just because they can.”

    The Battle of the Books competition for high schools was held on February 17.  South Point High School won the competition and Stuart W. Cramer High School was the runner-up.

    The Battle of the Books competition for middle schools was held on February 24.  First place went to Belmont Middle School.  Stanley Middle School finished second, and Cramerton Middle School took third place.

    The Battle of the Books competition for elementary schools is March 23-24.  Math Masters for elementary schools is March 20-21, and Math Elite for middle schools is on March 22.