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Battle of the Books shares fun of reading, technology with students from 7 districts (VIDEO)

Mike Jaquays
Staff writer
Posted 3/21/23

The Battle of the Books event at Hamilton College gave more than 100 area students the chance to spend some quality time with others. See video in article.

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Battle of the Books shares fun of reading, technology with students from 7 districts (VIDEO)


CLINTON — The Battle of the Books event Monday at Hamilton College gave more than 100 area students the chance to spend some quality time with others who have similar interests, all in the new surroundings of higher education, said co-organizer Karen Zaleski.

“I hope they all had fun spending time with other students who also enjoy books and reading and have a taste of the college experience that is right in their backyards,” explained Zaleski, a library media specialist from nearby Clinton Central School.

Middle and high school students from seven regional school districts competed in the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES District’s 2023 Battle of the Books in the Kirner-Johnson Building’s auditorium. 

(Check out some of the activity in this video.)

The event was hosted by the college’s Library and Information Technology Services (LITS) and welcomed students from Clinton, Dolgeville, Holland Patent, Little Falls, New Hartford, New York Mills and Richfield Springs school districts.

The Holland Patent team of Sarah Bangs, Avery Pilatzke and Elizabeth Blier won the high school finals against Clinton, and the Clinton team of Andrew Bashant, Ethan LaBuz, Jude Leising, and Emily Roy won the middle school competition against Holland Patent, Zaleski said.

“It was a close competition, with several teams separated by only one point,” she said.

This was their first time back with the Battle of the Books since it was canceled —  with only a couple of days notice — back in 2020 as the pandemic hit, Zaleski said. The event is a collaborative affair with the area advisors, Zaleski said. She offered her thanks to Hamilton College Librarians Kristin Strohmeyer and Alex Wohnsen for “hosting and arranging wonderful learning experiences for us.”

The Battle of the Books offered a fun and friendly competition by tasking teams of students to read books from a specified list and then answer trivia questions based on those books.

Hamilton College staff members also engaged with students in high-tech activities such as experiencing the world of virtual reality while wearing VR headsets indoors and flying a drone outdoors. They also got the historical experience of seeing some rare books and manuscripts firsthand.

New York Mills sixth graders Yocheved Portillo and Emma Spellman were two of the many students to venture into the world of virtual reality, assisted by Hamilton College instructional designers Mike Revenaugh and Ben Salzman.

“It was fun — I really liked going into that world,” Emma, who made her way through a virtual escape room, said.

“This was my first time ever using VR,” Yocheved, who played the VR rhythm game Beat Saber, noted. “It was a really cool experience.”

Revenaugh said the students might have looked like they were playing “games,” but there was much more going on in the midst of that fun.

“It might look like they are playing Beat Saber now, but that is just to acclimate themselves to the technology,” he explained. “I think it is great for the students to be in this collegiate environment and see what kind of technology we have here.”

Emma’s mom, Taylor Spellman, was one of the chaperones for the Battle of the Books. She said the event was a great reward for all of the hard work the kids do at school and at home.


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