Cobb Students Demonstrate Mastery in Reading Bowl Competition

Campbell Middle School students celebrate their win at the Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl Competition

After a 1-year COVID hiatus, Cobb County’s Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl (HRRB) competition once again demonstrated student knowledge and skills. 

Traditionally, 40+ teams have faced off in a quiz-bowl style competition at a local high school, but this year’s format looked a little different due to the pandemic.  

“We wanted to keep the reading spirit at the heart of the competition, but we also wanted to be sure the main event was safe,” said Cobb Schools steering committee co-chair Susan Buckert, who also serves as a media specialist at McEachern High School. 

The result was a hybrid format that consisted of a virtual preliminary round and a scaled-back face-to-face competition. 37 teams participated virtually in the preliminary competition to kick off the event. The top four at each level then advanced to the face-to-face competition, which was recently held at Mount Bethel Elementary School.TEALSEY%20during%20competition.jpg

“Although we missed seeing the other teams and the Parade of Teams, we felt the hybrid model and online assessment was a wonderful new way to assess the teams on their knowledge of the books prior to competing with other teams,” noted Awtrey Middle School media specialist and coach Anita Foster

Although teams were told to plan 90 minutes for the assessment, many finished in under 10 minutes! 

“It was an amazing sight to see our six students, who started out seated around tables, standing and yelling answers in excitement,” Foster explained.

While there were fewer teams present for the face-to-face competition than in years past, the competition was still fierce, and the team camaraderie was as strong as ever.

“The thing I like best about coaching is the relationships forged on my team,” noted South Cobb High School coach Brian Ragsdale, whose team placed first in the high school division. “Students who might never have met become bonded by reading the same books and sharing their love of reading.” 

For Anamika Pol, coaching the reading bowl team at Campbell Middle School is a way to promote reading and her love for her school community. 

“It is so important for students to love reading so they can learn new vocabulary words,” said Pol. “Reading will also stretch their imagination and show them the world in a whole other way!”

campbell%20middle%20school%20HRRB%20team%202022.jpegSix Cobb teams advanced to the West Regional competition, where Cobb Schools swept first place titles in all grade levels. Those teams will now advance to the virtual state competition on March 19. The winning Cobb teams headed to the state competition include Kemp Elementary School, Campbell Middle School, and South Cobb High School. 

The reading competition dates back to 1986 and was founded by Helen Ruffin, an innovative library media specialist from another metro Atlanta school district. The Cobb Schools HRRB steering committee works year-round to make the annual reading celebration possible for Cobb students in grades 4-12.

“The talent our students have is remarkable, and I love witnessing their nerves turn to calm as they confidently buzz in and answer questions about the books,” said Susan Sharrow, HRRB committee member, and Pope High School media specialist. Rainey%20and%20Susan%20Sharrow,%20volunteers-1.jpg

Ms. Sharrow’s daughter Rainey, a senior at Walton High School, volunteered at the event with Hillgrove High School student Marley, who is the daughter of fellow HRRB committee member Amy Crosby.

“Books connect us, and I love sharing that connection with others,” added the Teasley media specialist and HRRB coach. “The BEST part is chatting with the middle and high school students on the day of the competition and hearing which book was their favorite. Books are terrific conversation starters.”