Hail to the Vikings of Northeast High.
With freshman Mary Freeman in the captain's chair, the school edged five other remaining teams to become the 2009 Battle of the Books High School champs. The competition was held inside the Pinellas County School Board's auditorium Friday in downtown Largo.
After the teenagers' showdown, the elementary and middle school districts were held with the Bookaneers of Lakeview Fundamental Elementary and the Excaliburs of Tarpon Springs Middle taking the trophies.
Started 11 years ago (except the high school division, which started in 2006), the Battle of the Books district round has students sitting in clusters of three with hands poised on a buzzer. They answer questions in quiz game format, pouncing on the buzzer as quickly as they can.
What makes Northeast's victory all the sweeter is the fact that the Vikings knocked out the previously undefeated Countryside Cougars from a three-year reign.
"Up until now, Countryside High School is the only name that's been on that trophy,'' said Bonnie Kelley, supervisor of Library Media/Technology for Pinellas County Schools and coordinator of the event.
The Vikings did not expect to win.
"This is a great surprise,'' said Freeman, as she clutched the championship trophy with teammates Shakira Jinks-Smith and Julie Solomon by her side. Freeman offered advice to future warriors in such a battle. "Read the books and then read them again and again.''
The Battle of the Books for the lower grades consists of three rounds of questions about 15 books taken from the Sunshine State Young Readers list. The high school competition is styled the same way with the books coming from the Florida Teens Read list.
Information on both programs can be found on the Web site for the Florida Association of Media in Education, www.floridamedia.org.
After suffering defeat in the districts last year, the team from Lakeview Fundamental was determined to win, according to Diane Kort, the school's library information specialist.
"Our strategy was to listen for key words,'' Kort said. ''If they'd hear a word unique to a certain book, they'd hit the buzzer as fast as they could.''
After their victory in the middle school division, the Tarpon Springs team agreed to be quizzed on one more question.
What book should be on every middle-schooler's summer reading list?
"The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp by Rich Yancey is just too good,'' said team members in unison as they carted their trophy away from the stage area.