Henrico Schools End Book Bowl Competition, Parents Upset

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Hundreds of parents and students in Henrico are upset over the cancellation of an annual reading program called the Book Bowl.

The Book Bowl was an annual summer competition designed to encourage fifth graders in Henrico to read on vacation. Students would read from a list of 30 books and schools would put together teams that would compete in a trivia contest.

But after 24 years, the Book Bowl is suddenly gone.
     
Dana McComb was about to have her third child compete in the Henrico Book Bowl until she found out it would be canceled.

“No official announcement was ever made,” she says. “No reasons, nothing. It just was gone.”
     
She started a petition to get it back and it now has nearly 500 signatures.

“There are a lot of people who see the value of Book Bowl.”

Fellow parent Stephanie Hiss signed the petition. Her son Daniel got so into the competition last year and his team created book bowl emblems to wear as they read several books over the summer.

“It introduced him to reading bios, historical fiction, things that he never would’ve chose for himself,” she says. “Once he read them, he really liked them.”

Henrico Spokesperson Andy Jenks says school officials felt the competition didn’t help students learn the material and instead was more memory recall.

The Book Bowl also requires a lot of volunteers since it’s county wide, so it will likely be replaced with something smaller.

“We’re trying to shift toward more individual school based programs,” Jenks says. “And incorporate some of the things parents love about Book Bowl.”

But McComb says the fact the Book Bowl was a county competition made it better.

“Doesn’t matter what school you go to. Everybody has the same opportunities to read the exact same books and compete in the same competition.”

Due to McComb’s petition, there may be some hope for Book Bowl fans. The school division is now holding a public meeting on Monday, April 28 at Maybeury Elementary to get parental input on what should be done with the Book Bowl.

Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond

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