A team of Squadron Line sixth graders can now call themselves world travelers thanks to a competition called “Kids' Lit Quiz,” an annual literature competition for children ages 10-13. This team, made up of members Andrew Donshik, Eva Kaplinski, Elyse Kassa, and Julie Sojkowski, were the first U.S. team to compete in the world finals competition in Auckland, New Zealand, on July 4th.
Travel for the team was made possible because of the incredible generosity of the Simsbury community, through donations from both individuals and corporate sponsors. During the team’s whirlwind week in New Zealand, they attended a cultural welcoming ceremony, met the Mayor of Auckland, met several local authors and attended a book launch, visited Hobbiton—the set for the film Lord of the Rings and the soon-to-be-released Hobbit movie, attended a play, climbed two volcanoes and attended a rugby game. The Simsbury students also met students from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, South Africa and Scotland.
Although there were plenty of sight-seeing opportunities, the reason the team traveled all the way to New Zealand was to compete and make the Simsbury community proud. While the New Zealand team from the Awaheri School came out on top (this was their third trip to the World Final), only a few points separated the next 4 teams, with Squadron students placing fifth.
Dan Donshik, father of Andrew Donshik, blogged, “They did an outstanding job working as a team, answering questions that each knew, and supporting each other throughout.”
Coaches Maureen Billings and Jane Fox, second grade teachers at Squadron Line, accompanied the team on the trip. On behalf of both teachers, Billings expressed thanks to the community for the experience and noted, “It was a privilege to accompany such an outstanding group of students and share in the positive learning experience. It became evident as the first few teams began to arrive at the dorm, that this was more than just a literature quiz for students passionate about reading; it was an opportunity for teachers and students to interact with peers from around the world and build lasting relationships.”
The teachers also commented on the learning enrichment provided by the events outside of competition. Said Billings, “The planned activities allowed the students and coaches to learn about New Zealand’s history and culture and enjoy Auckland’s natural beauty. Students were provided with forums to foster their communication skills by being asked to speak in front of a variety of audiences which included authors, journalists, professors, politicians, and other dignitaries.”
She concluded, “As teachers, Mrs. Fox and I were able to discuss methods used in other countries to support literacy and form relationships that will allow us to create cultural exchanges via technology with our present and future classes.”
Photos and details of the trip are available on the Squadron Line website at http://www.simsbury.k12.ct.us/page.cfm?p=4406. You can also follow the children’s adventures via a blog dedicated to the trip at http://www.kidslitquiz.us/