• Nov. 21, 2023

    USC teams excel at Lit. Fest!

    Third place, High School DivisionUpper St. Clair students earned a first place and two third place finishes in the South Hills Literary Festival (Lit. Fest!). The event was held on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023, at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall in Carnegie.

    In the high school division, the Upper St. Clair High School team of Josh Beitler, Sophia Whitman and Carlee Santel placed first in the book sculpture challenge and third in the Battle of the Books. The Fort Couch team of Seth Pedretti, Will Kreizenbeck, Owen Maher, and Max Belczyk took home third in the Battle of the Books middle school division.

    The event is organized and funded by the South Hills Area Gifted Teachers' Committee. Tom Yochum, Upper St. Clair gifted education coordinator, creates many of the Battle of the Books questions and emcees the event annually.

    Third place, middle school divisionMonths of reading, book discussion, and preparation go into the event. More than 40 Upper St. Clair students read this fall's novels.

    "I'm happy for the students who placed, but truly proud of everyone involved,” Mr. Yochum said. “Teenage schedules are incredibly demanding these days and to devote time to reading several additional novels (and to enjoy discussing them!) is something that should encourage us all.”

    In total, 15 high school teams and 30 middle school teams from more than 25 school districts came together to celebrate literature and hold a Battle of the Books. Teams traveled through the library – collaborating on short stories, creating book sculptures and competing in team trivia.

    This year’s theme was books that have been adapted for television or the movies. The middle schoolers read four selections this fall: Ernest Cline's “Ready Player One;” Andy Weir's “The Martian;” John Green's “The Fault in Our Stars;” and Shirley Jackson's “The Haunting of Hill House.” High school participants also read Jackson's horror classic, in addition to Jeannette Walls's “The Glass Castle;” Delia Owens' “Where the Crawdads Sing;” and Emily St. John Mandel's “Station Eleven.”