David Ybarra celebrates with his Crescent Harbor reading team Tuesday after they won the semi-final competition of the third grade reading challenge. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News Group

David Ybarra celebrates with his Crescent Harbor reading team Tuesday after they won the semi-final competition of the third grade reading challenge. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News Group

Making out like, well, Bandits

The tension was palpable Tuesday night in the Oak Harbor Elementary gymnasium.

David Ybarra’s eyes lit up as the scores for each team were announced, leaving the winner for last.

Ybarra and his teammates threw their arms into the air when Joy Feldman announced that the Crescent Harbor Elementary Bookmark Bandits had claimed first place.

“Who needs March Madness when we have the third-grade reading challenge?” asked Feldman, a librarian for Sno-Isle Libraries.

A team of third graders from each public elementary school on Whidbey Island competed Tuesday in the semifinals of the challenge, hosted by Sno-Isle Libraries. The students read six books throughout the year and had their knowledge about those stories put to the test during an in-school competition and Tuesday night’s all-island event.

The seven teams that participated in Tuesday’s book trivia represented the winning teams from each school competition.

Crescent Harbor’s Bookmark Bandits will move on to the final on March 28 at Edmonds Center for the Arts. There, seven teams from public schools throughout Snohomish and Island counties will compete for the top trophy and pizza party prize.

All students who make it into the final will also get the chance to meet the two local authors from the six reading challenge books they read.

“I’m so excited,” said Deacon Roundy, a member of Crescent Harbor’s winning team.

“At first I was really worried,” said his teammate, Rozalyn Walley. “And I was so happy when they called our team to win.”

All of the teams trained hard for the competition.

Savannah Clem said she re-read a lot of the books and took notes to make sure she remembered all the details. This effort proved necessary, for several of the trivia questions got pretty specific.

One question asked how many mice served on the Mouse Council in the “Tale of Despereaux,” which was only mentioned once in the challenge’s longest book.

The competition was started as a way to promote literacy among a critical age group, according to Feldman.

There are numerous studies that indicate third grade is a pivotal point in children’s education, and if they aren’t strong readers by then, they will often fall behind for the rest of their schooling, she said.

“We want them to become stronger, more confident readers, but we also want to nurture a love of books,” she said.

There’s nothing like the adrenaline rush of competition.

The elated Crescent Harbor team high-fived one another and hugged their parents after the end of the challenge Tuesday night.

Though some of them were admittedly nervous about the final on Wednesday, they also said they aren’t too worried.

“We’ve won twice, and I feel like we’re going to win again,” Clem said. “I’m really confident.”

The Hawkeye Readers from Coupeville Elementary School huddle up to answer a question at the third grade reading challenge Tuesday. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News Group

The Hawkeye Readers from Coupeville Elementary School huddle up to answer a question at the third grade reading challenge Tuesday. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News Group

Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News Group
                                David Ybarra can barely contain his excitement as he realizes his team won the all-island third grade reading challenge Tuesday night at Oak Harbor Elementary.

Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News Group David Ybarra can barely contain his excitement as he realizes his team won the all-island third grade reading challenge Tuesday night at Oak Harbor Elementary.

More in Life

Whidbey winter blast scrapbook

A look at Whidbey Island’s winter blast.… Continue reading

Land trust launches its 6th annual photo contest

By Ron Newberry Special to the Whidbey News-Times There is natural beauty… Continue reading

ROCKIN’ A HARD PLACE: SPIN Café will finally get its spin

O ak Harbor’s SPIN Café is about to get the spin cycle… Continue reading

A second chance at love is found in a taproom

For some people, Valentine’s Day isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.… Continue reading

Annie Jr. allowing students to shine

Note: Due to the recent snowy weather, the Coupeville Elementary Drama Club… Continue reading

In touch with giants

Orca Network offers hands-on encounters with gray whales

Classic play takes on timeless societal issues

Whidbey Playhouse spotlights domestic violence, mental illness in ‘Streetcar’

Annual Chocolate Walk makes for a sweet visit to historic Coupeville

It’s time to get cozy with a hot cup of cocoa, bundle… Continue reading

Big Red Event for Ryan’s House

Homeless youth organization celebrating 10th anniversary

Building a North Whidbey Hearts & Hammers

Home-repair nonprofit extends its helping hand

Doug Martin loves numbers and budgeting.
Island County’s numbers guy: ‘I enjoy budget … it’s my forte’

Island County commissioners want the public to see the annual budget as… Continue reading

Orchestra performing array of string music Saturday and Sunday

Whidbey’s Saratoga Orchestra will present a set of programs called “Simply Strings”… Continue reading