EDISON, NJ- On Tuesday, April 26 2016, J.P. Stevens High School’s “Lionhearts” won both first and second places in the final Battle of the Books competition of the 2015-2016 school year against Edison High School and Highland Park High School. It was the first time J.P. Stevens participated in this annual, nationwide program hosted by America’s Battle of the Books committee. J.P. Steven’s competition coordinator was Shari Stein, the school’s librarian.
Teams were formed on January 15, consisting of a minimum of four and maximum of six people. The Lionhearts comprised of six members, freshman Ariocie Liang, juniors Disha Bailoor, Jiayi Yang, Andrea Quispe, Xiwen Sheng, and senior Taniya Arora. The group was one of the top three teams from J.P. Stevens that competed earlier on Tuesday, April 5. In fact, the last round of the final competition at Edison and Highland Park on April 26 was a tiebreaker round between the Lionhearts and another team from J.P. Stevens.
Team members were required to read nine books and familiarize themselves with the content. At the competition, moderators posed questions to the teams based on information from the books, such as characters, theme, and plot. A spokesperson was elected from each team to answer the question after a thirty second team discussion. If a team answers a question incorrectly, a new question is asked to the next team.
“If your answer is considered wrong by the mediator and you think that it was right, then you can challenge,” explains junior Disha Bailoor, one of the members of The Lionhearts. “You prove that your answer is also right by showing the page number from the book. You usually get one minute for this.”
The nine required readings were Abundance of Katherines by John Green, Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber, Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Hoops by Walter Dean Myers, Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen, and The Wave by Todd Strasser.
“All the books were interesting because they belonged to different genres under fiction,” comments Bailoor. “Like Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez was historical.”
“It was nerve wracking because we only got 30 seconds to answer a question and only 10 seconds during the tiebreaker round!” Says Bailoor. “I learned that the important part was not to become very nervous and take charge of the situation. Remaining calm and composed helps as it frees your mind to think about the problem at hand.”
The Lionhearts’ special strategy was to divide up the books among themselves and read more if need be in order to answer questions faster. Overall, J.P. Stevens’ first-ever participation in the Battle of the Books has been a resounding success, with the Lionhearts claiming both first and second places.
Sruti Bezawada is a junior at J.P. Stevens High School.