I will not be not sitting in front of the computer today. Instead, I will be at the EBOB, as in Elementary Battle of the Books. I’m a judge for the fourth year in a row and I love it! I love watching children get excited over books. Team cheers. Team t-shirts. Clapping for each other. Huddling and discussing the books. Don’t tell me children aren’t reading. I know better. I’ve seen it.
There was no EBOB during the years Pilot Mountain School was open, but there was one competition many former students do remember. They were just as excited about it as the children of today are about the Battle of the Books. It was the yearly Recitation and Declamation contest.
This was a memorization activity for the older students, usually sixth, seventh and eighth graders, but sometimes fourth and fifth, too. The student would memorize a three or four page script and present it before an audience of squirming children and serious judges. Just like EBOB, these students were excited. They'd clap for each other and cheer each other along. Maybe they didn’t have matching t-shirts, but that was not a consideration. Not back then. They didn’t need them. They had spirit and that was enough.
Sometimes the speeches were patriotic. Usually the boys picked those.
Sometimes the speeches were religious. Sometimes humorous, in an attempt to mimic Minnie Pearl.
Or sad. That would awe the judges if the speaker could pull it off. Dog died. Mom sick. “Little Match Girl” kind of tragedies.
The winners went on to a county competition. Several Pilot Mountain students won on that level as well.
Give them the first few words, now, sixty years later, and they can take it up and recite, if not all, at least a phrase or two.
There's more to competition than meets the eye.
Catch of the day,