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Two students named champions of Georgia’s first National English Spelling Competition

Monday, April 1
English hardly a challenge for these young spellers

TBILISI, GEORGIA, 1 April 2013 — There's no better way to succeed in one's education than by learning how to spell. Early Saturday morning, 34 extraordinary students from nine regions across Georgia rose to the occasion by participating in the country’s first National English Spelling Competition.

Sponsored by Free University of Tbilisi & Agricultural University of Georgia, Rico Credit, and World Vision Georgia, the event was attended by approximately 200 family members, teachers and supporters of the finalists. The day began with opening remarks from NESC Committee Member, Gus Davidson, and American Friendship Club Director, Ilia Zukakishvili. After a quick review of the rules and an introduction of this year’s judges – Michael Turner from the U.S. Embassy, Pam Kemsley from ETI, Sue Miller from Peace Corps Georgia, Davit Dopidze from FLEX, and Natela Urushadze from American Corner Tbilisi – the competition commenced.

The 8th-9th graders competed first, spelling words such as thyme, stoic, and quotient. Tougher words came with the second and third rounds eliminating over half the field. With only three spellers still standing, the winning round came down to the word verisimilitude, which means ‘the appearance of being true or real’. Correctly spelled by Sopho Tsikoridze of Kutaisi, the competition took 27 rounds to complete. Second place went to Tatia Kakhetelidze of Khashuri, while third place went to Diana Baboyan of Akhaltsikhe.

An intermission followed the 8th-9th grade competition, where everyone was invited to a catered lunch and an opportunity to meet and learn more about NESC sponsors and supporting organizations. A raffle for Georgian-English dictionaries was also held.

The 10th-12th graders were next on the stage where words such as asphyxiate, kaleidoscope, and xenophobia proved challenging for even the strongest spellers. Amazingly, the final three competitors had mastered the competition word list so well that the judges feared they might run out of words. Fortunately, this was not the case, and a champion rose above the rest as the other competitors succumbed to a misspelled word. This year's 10th-12th grade champion is Nana Ghonghadze of Tbilisi, who made it through 42 suspense-filled rounds before winning the competition by correctly spelling the word bicentennial. Second place went to Tamari Mtchedlishvili of Tetritskaro, while third place went to Ani Talakhadze of Kvibisi.

Upon completion of the competition, the U.S. Embassy awarded both champions with an Apple iPad, second place winners with Apple iPod, and third place winners with English dictionaries and thesauruses.

Later that evening, a special reception for the students, teachers, judges, sponsors and volunteers was held at U.S. Ambassador Richard Norland’s residence to recognize and celebrate everyone’s accomplishments. After the Ambassador addressed the audience, he presented each finalist with a certificate of achievement.

“The event’s tagline ‘Georgia Spells Opportunity,’ could well serve as a preview of the brand for the rapidly democratizing and developing Georgia that we know and love. It represented a great deal of work by bright Georgian students and support from dedicated Peace Corps Volunteers and teachers. We are grateful to them and the sponsors who made the event possible,” said Ambassador Norland.

NESC Committee Member Gus Davidson credits every student for having the capability to spell, even the hardest of words. "All of the students participating have already won their regional competitions, so in a way they are already champions," Davidson said. “Spelling in a foreign language is extremely challenging, which proves these students are incredibly talented and motivated."

Generous sponsorships and donations from Free University of Tbilisi & Agriculture University of Georgia, Rico Credit, World Vision Georgia, American Friendship Club, McCann Erickson Georgia, McDonald’s, Rustaveli Cinema, Georgian American High School & Junior School, ETI, British Council Georgia, and the U.S. Embassy made it possible to conduct the NESC.
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The National English Spelling Competition (NESC) was established in 2012 to reward students and teachers for their hard work and celebrate their achievements in a public forum. The event is administered by the NESC Committee, which is comprised of a group of volunteers throughout Georgia who strive to improve the English language learning experience and increase the motivation to learn. The NESC Committee collaborates with all parties interested in supporting the NESC including non-governmental organizations, government bodies, schools and the private sector. Notable partners and supporters include the Free University of Tbilisi & Agriculture University of Georgia, Rico Credit, World Vision Georgia, U.S. Embassy, The Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, Peace Corps Georgia, American Corners, ETI, British Council Georgia, and American Friendship Club.