A group of students at Smithfield Middle School have developed a new-found love of reading, and it's all thanks to a special competition called "Battle of the Brains."
The competition pits students around the country against each other to help them improve reading skills and retain information.
The group of students that take part in the competition already have the odds stacked against them since they are deaf.
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"Vocabulary is a struggle. You and I as hearing people catch vocabulary by just incidental learning. We hear it all over and it happens. They are cut off from incidental learning," said middle school teacher Teresa Fuller.
The competition is simple, read a book, discuss with your team and then face off via video conferencing with students at another school across the country.
Right answers equal points for the team and the top scorers travel to the Battle of the Brains Superbowl, a face-off in person in Washington D.C.
"It’s fun! You get to socialize with other people, you get to battle, you get to socialize with other people your age," said 8th grader Tisha Manandhar.
The battles are working, inspiring these young readers to talk about novels, ask critical questions, and truly comprehend.
"I see that again and again, they start reading they get on the program and compete and they’re like 'This is what books can do for me," said Fuller.
It helps social skills too.
"If she reads a chapter she didn’t understand, we’d discuss everything and make her understand," said Manandhar.
"If you have another deaf kid there like me and Tisha do at lunch, we can just sign and understand each other better," said student Caitlyn Kinsler.
Typical middle school problems, just the same for these young ladies who aren’t held back by a disability, they’re soaring, now reading more than three grade levels ahead.
The students won the rounds last year and went to that super bowl of reading in D.C. This year, they scored 122 points, just one point short for a return to the nation's capitol.