Local prep school takes 2nd place in Reading Bowl

Local prep school takes 2nd place in Reading Bowl

By Janell Williams


Sixth graders from Emanuel Prep School of Math & Science recently won second place in the Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl, triumphing over their seventh and eighth-grade competitors. The group read and reread multiple books over the past few weeks to prepare for the competition.

Emanuel Prep, founded by Pastor Carlos Coleman, is a local Pre-K-sixth grade boys’ school focused on teaching students with a faith-based approach. The school has been open for eight years so far and continues to focus on Christian values as it grows.

“I founded the school around the time of the Trayvon Martin incident,” said Coleman. “I asked myself, ‘What would’ve happened if Trayvon were my son? So I wanted to expand how I prepare my own sons for the community.”

The Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl began when Helen Ruffin, a Library Media Specialist at Sky Haven Elementary School in DeKalb County, created a reading competition in 1986.

It was called The Reading Bowl and, in a competitive game format, questioned students about the content of some of the Georgia Book Award Nominees each year. Her vision was to have teams compete to test their knowledge of the selected books. 

This idea came to her after serving on the Georgia Book Award Nomination Committee at the University of Georgia, in 1985. From this experience, Mrs. Ruffin shared her vision with her colleagues who embraced the idea and helped her press forward.

Sixth-graders Julian Brooks, Jaylen Carter, Giancarlo Houston, Jett Lawrence and Noah Muhammad volunteered for the Reading Bowl and began practicing with Headmaster Quleria Person and 4th-grade teacher Gary Fuller. 

During the competition, students went through four rounds of 15 questions about the 10 assigned readings, with each question worth 10 points. Because three of the books did not coincide with their faith-led curriculum, Emanuel Prep students could not read and compete in those questions.

“Three of the books did not align with our mission and the Christian values we practice here,” said Person. “We teach them to know who they are, but those particular books dealt with gender identity and, though everyone has their own beliefs, we did not want to expose our scholars to that.”

The Reading Bowl recently made headlines after including books like: “Attack of the Black Rectangles,” a book about censoring sexual materials, “Ellen Outside the Lines,” whose main character is a lesbian and “Too Bright to See,” featuring a transgender boy as the main character.

Going forward, Emanuel Prep is hoping to expand to eighth grade and continue its mission of Christian leadership with young men in the community.

 The school will also be hosting its annual fundraiser on Thurs., Feb. 29, at 6:30 p.m. at the school’s campus located at 10107 Veterans Parkway, Midland, GA. More information about Emanuel Prep can be found on their website.

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