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February 5, 2016

(L-R): 2016 Runner-Up Safiyyah Rahim, Liberty Middle School and
2016 NCSS Spelling Bee Champion, Jet Rawls, Indian Creek Middle School.

Indian Creek Middle School seventh-grader Jet Rawls is definitely a super speller. He’s won the Newton County School System (NCSS) Spelling Bee two years in a row! The 2016 and 2015 NCSS Spelling Bee Champion will now represent the school system in the regional spelling bee at Sequoyah Middle School in Riverdale, Georgia on Saturday, February 27, 2016.

“I’m really excited about winning but it was very nerve-wracking, especially this time,” said Rawls. “Because I had already won last year I thought maybe luck wouldn’t be on my side this time.  But I was really excited to win.”

Held at Newton High School, the NCSS Spelling Bee featured spelling bee champions from each of the district’s elementary and middle schools. After several rounds of competition, the final round came down to a battle between Rawls, of Indian Creek Middle School and Safiyyah Rahim, of Liberty Middle School. Rahim faltered on the word, “zucchini” after which Rawls stepped to the microphone and spelled “cauliflower” and then won the championship by correctly spelling the word, “mozzarella.”

To prepare for the bee, Rawls said he dedicated time at home to study both the school spelling bee list and the Scripps list.

“I kept on reviewing those lists and also studied the spelling bee lists from the last three spelling bees at the school and the county,” he added.  “I like the competition but I also like just learning new words because I know it will help me in school with essays and stuff.”

According to Rawls, his experience in the regional bee last year will help him prepare for this year’s competition.

“I learned that I definitely need to study a lot more words,” he said. I’m going to focus on learning new words and also keep reviewing the ones I already know. I’m also going to study the Paideia words.” 

In addition to simply studying lists, Rawls credited his love of reading for helping him add words to his vocabulary.

“I really enjoy reading books,” he said. “Especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery books.”

No matter the outcome at the regional bee, Rawls already has his sights on one more goal—winning the NCSS Spelling Bee again next year. He has been a school spelling bee champion each year he was eligible, from fourth through seventh grade, and he’d definitely like to end his spelling bee career as the three-time NCSS Spelling Bee champion.

“I’ll be back!” he said, as he headed off to a celebratory lunch at Nagoya, with his parents Todd and Tuesday Rawls.

“Spelling is an important skill to have and I congratulate both Safiyyah and Jet on a job well done,” said NCSS Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey. “They represented their schools very well today and should be very proud of their accomplishments in the county competition.”

Fuhrey added, “To win the district spelling bee two years in a row is a fantastic accomplishment and Jet should definitely be commended. I have watched him participate in the district bee since he was eligible in elementary school and have been impressed by how he has focused on continually learning and adding new, more difficult words to his already expansive vocabulary. I am very proud of him and wish him the very best at the regional spelling bee. I’m sure he will be a fierce competitor!”

For more information, contact Ms. Sherri Davis-Viniard, Director of Public Relations for Newton County Schools, at