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March 1, 2016

Dr. Mariah Buchanan, Consultant for the District 5 Regional Spelling Bee presents
NCSS student Jet Rawls with the 2016 Champion's trophy. 

Newton County School System student Jet Rawls is a young man on a mission—and he’s off to a great start! It’s long been Rawls’ goal to make it to the Scripps National Spelling Bee and now he’s one step closer, having won the District 5 Regional Spelling Bee in Riverdale, Georgia. He competed against students from Bremen City, and Butts, Clayton, Coweta, Fayette, Griffin-Spalding, Heard, Henry, and Rockdale county school systems. As a result of his win, Rawls is now the reigning Indian Creek Middle School, Newton County School System, and District 5 Regional Spelling Bee champion. His next stop is the State Spelling Bee later this month.

“I was really nervous but you’ve got to fight it back,” said Rawls, who battled through 19 rounds of competition at the District 5 Bee. His chance to win the title finally came when Breanna Riley of Clayton County School System, faltered on the word, “semantics.” Jet successfully spelled “filament” and then clinched the championship by spelling the word, “palmetto.”

“When they said the word, ‘palmetto,’ I was like, ‘I did it,’” he said.

For his efforts he won a trophy and $200 from the Georgia Association of Educators and a box of school supplies from the District 5 Regional Spelling Bee host, Sequoyah Middle School.

When asked, Rawls noted that he was confident he knew how to spell each of the words called to contestants during the Regional Bee. With that said, he acknowledged that the State Spelling Bee would be a completely different story.

“It’s cool to make it to the State Spelling Bee, but I know it’s probably going to be a lot tougher,” he said. “I can see it gets increasingly harder each level you go up.”

Successfully preparing for a spelling bee competition is nothing new to Rawls, though. He’s won his school spelling bee each of the past four years—fourth and fifth grade at East Newton Elementary and sixth and seventh grade at Indian Creek Middle. He’s also won the Newton County School System Spelling Bee two years in a row and now, in his second attempt, he’s won the Regional Spelling Bee. As a result, he’s already got a plan for the State Bee.

“I’m going to study the lists I already have and also find some more challenging words to learn,” he said. “I’ll review vocabulary and try to define new words.”  

“We’re very proud of him,” said Jet’s father, Todd Rawls. “He’s worked real hard and now he’s finally gotten past the Regional Bee. The State Spelling Bee will be a lot tougher but it will be a great experience for him.”

“Jet is the most charming young man—well-mannered and a great citizen,” said Dr. Renee Mallard, principal of Indian Creek Middle School. “He is a pleasure to have as part of our student body. In addition, he’s an excellent student who is so conscientious about his work. His teachers as well as the rest of Indian Creek, are so proud of him. I am thrilled for his parents and him!”

“I am so proud of Jet,” said NCSS Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey. “It is a joy to see a student set a lofty goal and then work hard to attain it and that is exactly what Jet has done. Each year he has focused on improving his results in the Spelling Bee. He was a school level champion his first two years and then last year he won the school system competition, which afforded him his first opportunity to participate in the regional bee. Now, one year later, he’s the regional champion and headed for the State Spelling Bee. With his focus and determination I know he will do well at the state competition. He’s an excellent ambassador for the Newton County School System and I know he will make us all proud!”

Jet will compete against the best spellers in Georgia at the 2016 State Spelling Bee on Friday, March 18, 2016, at 11:00 a.m. at Zoo Atlanta, Coca Cola World Studio.