Student with parents from Ethiopia wins Spelling Bee

By Deneesha Edwards
The Dispatch:

The odds were against the student crowned the 2010-11 Davidson County Schools’ Spelling Bee champion Friday at Davis-Townsend Elementary.

Eleven-year-old Nejat Alkadir didn’t let them stop her from winning and moving on to the regional competition. Born in the United States to Ethiopian parents who do not speak English well, Nejat’s love for reading helped her prepare for the spelling bee.

“I’m really excited and happy,” said the Ledford Middle School sixth-grader. “I studied a lot and used the computer to learn words”

Nejat-Alkadir-wins-spelling-bee
Nejat Alkadir (left) of Ledford Middle School smiles after winning the Davidson County Schools' 2010-11 Spelling Bee on Friday

Nejat beat Lauren Sprouse, from North Davidson Middle School, in round 13 by spelling the word “nachtmusik” right. Nearly 100 family members, friends, school administrators and supporters attended to offer their support to the 24 students competing from the elementary and middle schools from Davidson County Schools.

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“Even though it’s dreary outside, it is a bright shining day inside,” said Dr. Sandi Lee, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for Davidson County Schools. “We are so excited each year with our spelling bee. Congratulations to our students who made it here. We’re proud of every one of them; they’re all winners. We appreciate all the support we get from our families and community members.”

Nejat said due to her parents, Aminu Alemu and Sitina Kerim, speaking the Amharic language, she had little help from them with studying. Since December, she had learned to spell 1,000 words. She also said that participating in the spelling bee for three years helped her with knowing what to expect.

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“I’m real excited and kind of nervous,” Nejat said.
Her mom just smiled and replied, “It feels good.”

A family friend, Judy Austin, said Nejat had started reading when she was 2 years old. Nejat enjoys reading realistic fiction.

“Her parents spoke no English at all,” Austin said. “It’s a natural ability. She has a God-given ability she was born with.”

Nejat received $100 from NewBridge Bank, a $25 gift certificate from Barnes and Noble and a gift certificate from Pandora Book Store. Sprouse, the runner-up, received $50 form NewBridge Bank and a $25 gift certificate from Barnes and Noble.
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