PUBLISHED: 4:16 PM on Wednesday, February 7, 2007
JYC competes at state level for third year
Battle of the Books

Photo by Amanda Gragert
  Johnson Youth Center students will compete in the state level of Battle of the Books on Friday, Feb. 16.
From the past few books you've read, can you name the title and author of which book features a pet consoling a character? Or in which a fire was started on the beach? Those sort of details are what high school students much retain while reading 12 books for the annual Battle of the Books competition.

For the third consecutive year, the team at Johnson Youth Center will compete in the state competition, which is held Feb. 16. The team of two beat out Juneau-Douglas High School by one question in the district competition.

"I felt bad for the other team," said J, whose name is withheld because of privacy at JYC. His teammate, P, said he was nervous during the tight contest.

"It was really nerve-racking," P said. "I had a stress ball in my hand."

To participate on the JYC team, teacher Jo Dahl and librarian Georgia Hartner require students to read all 12 books and stay committed to the team. Dahl said only J and P showed that commitment.

"I wasn't going to let someone on the team who was only going to halfway do it," Dahl said. "These boys work hard to get ready for this."

Because of the rotation of students, JYC starts fresh with a new team each year.

"From day one I said, 'Yes, I want to do that,' and I haven't let up since," J said.

The boys began reading the selected books in the fall and said finding time to read can be challenging since their days are scheduled with chores, class and treatment.

They each read all the books and then split the list to reread certain books to which they became "experts."

"It got hard for me because I was reading other books, and I would get them confused," P said.

P said he would like to advance for enough in the state competition to be in the final four.

"The goal is to make it to the third round," P said. "It's good to put JYC on the map."

J said he would prefer to set his sights on winning the state battle all together.

"I'm going for first," J said. "We're in here and are working on our treatment, so this is cool to do. It's exciting to be known for something."