Teams from OCDE’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program prevail in the ‘Battle of the Books’

Two teams from OCDE’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program won their divisions in the national Battle of the Books reading competition hosted by Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.

This year, more than 40 middle schools from across the country participated in the Gallaudet contest, which was created in 2012 to boost literacy, encourage critical thinking and promote sportsmanship for middle schoolers who are deaf and hard of hearing.

Battle of the Books winners
OCDE middle schoolers Leah Ortiz, Joecelyn Soria and Dominic Turner (front row, from left) celebrate with their coach, Janet Dicker, and a few Wonderland residents after winning their division in Gallaudet University’s Battle of the Books.

Teams are divided into three divisions — Blue, Green and Buff, which happen to be the university’s primary colors — and go head-to-head in competitions that put their reading retention and comprehension to the test.

OCDE’s DHH program at Venado Middle School in Irvine, which has produced finalists three straight years, entered teams in both the Blue and Green divisions. The Blue team traveled to Gallaudet at the end of March to compete in the national showdown, and they returned with a first-place trophy.

“This team worked very hard in preparation and beat some very worthy opponents to take the top spot in the competition,” OCDE Special Education Chief Analee Kredel said.

“Special congratulations to Joecelyn Soria, who was named Most Outstanding Player, and Leah Ortiz, who was named one of the All Stars,” Kredel said, “as well as Josh McGowan, who was named the Most Outstanding Player for the Green Division.”

McGowan was on a separate squad that won the Green Division based on the total points they accumulated during the season.

“Their competition was during the school year, and they were the highest scoring team in the whole country,” said David Longo, principal of OCDE’s DHH programs at Venado and University High School. “They received a free trip to Gallaudet this past weekend as well, in honor of that achievement.”

The Battle of the Books competition requires students to read specific books, participate in small group discussions, and develop study materials before engaging in preliminary competitions in late November.

This year’s prelims featured multiple-choice and short-answer questions, with students participating via videophones and web cameras. The playoffs followed a similar format in December, but added an extra round that had students respond with presentations.

The top eight teams in the Blue and Buff divisions were invited to the nationals, which took place March 29 through April 1 at Gallaudet.