West Jackson Middle School took top honors in the Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl state championships March 24, and Gum Springs Elementary School finished in second place. Both teams advanced through earlier competitions to make it to the state finals, held at the University of Georgia’s Center for Continuing Education during the 50th annual Conference on Children’s Literature. (See more photos here: https://www.facebook.com/JacksonCountySchoolSystem/posts/1901559593200991)
The Jackson County teams faced competition from Cobb County schools — Lovinggood for WJMS in the middle school division and Shallowford Falls for GSES in the elementary school division. More than 400 teams across the state competed in the contest this year, according to organizers.
WJMS team members are David Bennett, Kendall Brown, Abey Martin, Kellen Salom, Syon Schlect, Abigail Schwindt, and Will Stevens. Elementary school members are Ella Cobb, Julia Crowthers, Ally Hanley, Addie Lovejoy, Maci Martin, and Emerson Wright.
This is a second-time-around victory for several members of the WJMS team who were part of GSES’s 2016 state championship effort.
The GSES team is coached by media specialist Jill Weldon and English-as-a-second-language teacher Shelly Salom. WJMS coach Brittany Bennett, a math and science teacher, is assisted by Kate Martin, a parent volunteer. Among the many on hand at UGA’s Center for Continuing Education was Jennifer Ellis, who coached the GSES team for many years. Ellis now teaches in Oconee County.
The reading bowl is open to fourth- through 12th-graders across the state. Elementary and middle school students must read the current Georgia Children’s Book Award nominees; high school students read the current nominees for Georgia Peach Book Award for Teen Readers.
Creekview High School in Cherokee County took top honors in the high school division, with Montgomery County High School in second place.