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NCSS Spelling Bee champion moves on to state finals
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Newton County’s super speller, seventh-grader Caitlin Smith of Indian Creek Middle School, has earned a spot in the State Spelling Bee. Smith won the Indian Creek Spelling Bee, the Newton County School System Spelling Bee and was the runner?up in the regional spelling bee at Putnam County Elementary School in February. Her second place finish earned her a trip to the state competition this week at Georgia State University. “Everybody at the bee was a great speller and I just felt like if I won that would be great, but if I didn’t it was still great to just get there,” said Caitlin. “I was a little nervous because there were 18 contestants. When it got down to just the two of us I knew that win or lose I’d get a trophy and have something to be proud of.”  “Caitlin was excited to be there, but she stayed calm and composed during the district competition rounds and just did really well,” said her mother, Adele May, a math teacher at Newton High School. “We’re proud of her effort, her attitude, and her achievement and we’re very happy for her that she was able to place high enough to go to the nextlevel.” “Caitlin is a great kid who works very hard on everything she does,” added her dad, Steve Smith, a special education teacher at Alcovy High School. “Our whole family is very proud of her.”  According to Caitlin, she slipped on the word, “knish,” a noun that she had seen on her study list and spelled correctly when practicing. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, knish is “a small round or square of dough stuffed with a filling (as potato) and baked or fried.” Its etymology is Yiddish. “I had seen the word on my list and spelled it correctly but I was pronouncing it wrong,” said Caitlin, “so I didn’t recognize it when it was pronounced at the bee. The word is pronounced, “k??nish,” and I had been pronouncing it, “nish.” For her accomplishment, Caitlin was awarded the runner?up trophy, a college dictionary, and a $50?dollar gift card to Borders. Caitlin added that she was surprised when she learned that her second place finish guaranteed her the chance to participate in the state spelling bee but noted that she would prepare the same way she has been all along—with only one difference.  “I’m having friends and family still call out words to me but only the ones that I have trouble with,” she said. “I don’t want to waste time studying words I already know how to spell. The college dictionary I won has been very useful in studying but really, a lot of it is luck. It really comes down to whoever is the first one to get a word they don’t know.” The State Spelling Bee is this Friday, March 19 at 11:00 a.m. in the Student Center at Georgia State University in Atlanta. “Caitlin is so excited about this opportunity and I am confident in her ability to not only represent Indian Creek but Newton County School System as well,” said her principal, Dr. Renee Mallard. “Watching her compete at both the school and system level was so exciting. We are so proud of her and when I spoke to her on Monday, she said she was ready—and I believe her!”