BLUEFIELD — Vocabulary, comprehension and other reading skills were put to the test Monday when local elementary schools competed in the 2019-2020 Mercer County Schools Reading Bee.
After a morning of competing in oral presentation, reading/language arts skills, vocabulary and reading comprehension, the team from Athens School was declared the winner. The team included students Addison Peck, Landon Wyatt, Lorelai Mitchem, Mary Ellen Berkey and Luke Brown. Their coach was teacher Kim Yahya.
The teammates were soon standing in front of the Basic Science Building’s stage at Bluefield State College and taking turns holding the reading bee’s traveling trophy.
“Amazing, absolutely amazing,” Lorelai Mitchem said when asked what it felt like to win. “I actually wasn’t expecting it.”
Landon Wyatt held the trophy while photos were being taken.
“It doesn’t feel that heavy,” he remarked.
Athens School won the trophy two years ago, Principal Shelley Weiss recalled. The students prepared for the reading bee during and after school.
“The kids gave up their time, and we’re proud of them and Ms. Yahya because she put a lot of work into it,” Weiss said while the team celebrated.
The team started practicing for the Mercer County Reading Bee about six weeks before the competitions, Yahya said.
“It’s exciting to compete in an academic competition and to reward students for trying hard to read,” she stated.
The runner up for overall winner was the team from Mercer School with students Ethan Morelock, Julia Vance, Thomas McKenzie, Drake Lineberry and Trenton Tolliver. Their coach was teacher Jami Buckner.
The winners in teach competition included the following teams:
• Bluewell School won first place in oral presentation and Straley School was the runner up.
• In reading/language arts, Athens School won first place and Mountain Valley School was the runner up.
• The vocabulary competition’s winner was Mercer School, and the runner-up was Athens School.
• The reading comprehension contest’s winner was Spanishburg School and the runner-up was Athens School.
Before the presentations, the students were told about the reading bee’s history. It was founded when the late Tom Colley, executive editor of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, was chair of the Literacy Committee of the Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce, now the Chamber of Commerce of the Two Virginias. The concept was created to help encourage children to read.
The Literacy Committee for the Chamber of Commerce of the Two Virginias includes: Coordinator Eugenia Hancock; chair Michael Johnson of Cole Harley Davidson; Publisher Randy Mooney and Editor Samantha Perry of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph; Jeff Disibbo, chamber president and CEO; Karen DeHaan, Charity Holman, and Lindsey Shrader of the Chamber of the Two Virginias; and the Mercer County Board of Education.
The reading bee was co-sponsored by: Anytime Fitness; Bluefield College; Bluefield Daily Telegraph; Bluefield State College; Bluefield WV Rotary Club; Community Radiology of Virginia; Craft Memorial Library; Community Foundation of the Two Virginias, Inc.; Jeffrey Edward Shott Memorial Fund; Charles A. and Marjorie M. Peters Fund; Bluefield Daily Telegraph Literacy Fund; Eugenia Hancock and family; First Community Bank; Frank L. Smoot Charitable Trust; George M. Cruise Foundation; Mercer County Board of Education; Mercer County Opportunity Industries; Charles A. and Dafney K. Peters; Princeton Rays Baseball Club; Princeton WV Rotary Club; Professional Imaging, Inc.; Summit Community Bank; and WVVA.