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Nan Rushing Write-Off draws hundreds
Southeast Bulloch Middle takes overall trophy; William James ties 6th grade, wins 7th
W Nan Rushing 3
Nan Rushing is pictured with with Dr. Fran Stephens. - photo by Special

      The Southeast Bulloch Middle School Cafetorium was filled to capacity Saturday as students from each of the county's four public middle schools competed in the 26th Annual Nan Rushing Write-Off. Organizers presented 60 awards and one overall champion award which went to Southeast Bulloch Middle School for the second year in a row. "I'm so happy to see all of you here today," said Rushing, who sat proudly on the stage cheering on each winner. "Writing well is so important."
      Known only by their assigned reference numbers during the competition, nearly 200 students competed in seven categories including capitalization/punctuation, mental concentration, composition, language expression, vocabulary, spelling, and usage. In five of the events students completed multiple-choice exams that were then scored electronically. For the mental concentration and composition competitions, judges hand-scored the entries.
      In the end students applied their skills well as contest organizers had to administer tie-breakers in virtually every grade and skill area. "Students can showcase their language arts skills, and it is an awesome representation of some of the wonderful academic talent in our county," said SEBMS Language Arts Teacher Cindy Oliver. This year also marked the first time that students from Portal Middle High School competed, and they came away with four trophies.
      A crowd of more than 300 parents, teachers and students gathered afterwards for the awards ceremony.
      "When I was an English teacher, I could always pick out Mrs. Nan Rushing's former students in my classroom because they were prepared and wrote well," said Dr. Fran Stephens, who emceed the ceremony and serves as the District's assistant superintendent of teaching and learning for sixth through twelfth grades. Newly elected District 2 Board of Education Representative Mike Sparks, a retired educator himself, also helped present the awards.
      The competition was started in 1985 by then language arts teacher Nan Rushing, who had received a $1,000 mini-grant from the school system that year to begin a writing event in Nevils.
      "Initially the write-off was only for seventh graders, but now it's grown into a true middle-school concept," said the retired Rushing.
      Of the 10 mini-grants awarded in 1985, by former School Superintendent Ed Wynn, the Nan Rushing Write-off and the Penny Sikes Math Tournament are the two remaining programs that have stood the test of time and offered a valuable tool for encouraging students in math and language arts.
      Rushing was an educator for 37 years, and 20 of those were at Nevils Elementary. She also came out of retirement to teach language arts for seven years at Southeast Bulloch High School. The Write-Off was named in her honor in 2008.
 Businesses and civic groups like Excelsior EMC, Brooklet Kiwanis, local banks, and others have helped support the write-off through the years after the initial grant ended.
      The following is a list of this year's winners:
s Capitalization & Punctuation: Sixth Grade - First Place, Caleb Carter, SEBMS; Second Place, Taylor Smith, WJMS; Third Place, Julia Muldrew, WJMS; Seventh Grade - First Place, Katelyn Bennett, WJMS; Second Place, Ashleigh Riggs, SEMBS; Third Place, Taylor Glisson, PMHS; Eighth Grade - First Place, Cassidy Lovett, LCMS; Second Place, Katy Zuber, WJMS; Third Place, Emilio Quintero, WJMS.
s Spelling: Sixth Grade - First Place, Gavin Cowart, SEBMS; Second Place, Hunter Silva, SEBMS; Third Place, Leanna Marz, WJMS; Seventh Grade - First Place, Hope Rogers, LCMS; Second Place, Mikayla Andrews, WJMS; Third Place, Faith Andrews, Portal; Eighth Grade - First Place, Serina Scott, SEBMS; Second Place, Scarlet Shumate, WJMS; Third Place, Marli King, SEBMS.
s Usage: Sixth Grade - First Place, Kaitlan Koehler, WJMS; Second Place, Joseph Ham, SEBMS; Third Place, Alexandra Brown, WJMS; Seventh Grade - First Place, Katherine Price, WJMS; Second Place, Adam Redman, WJMS; Third Place,Tiffany Coleman, SEBMS; Eighth Grade - First Place, Charles James, SEBMS; Second Place, Mary Flott, SEBMS; Third Place, Chel'le Littles, WJMS.
s Language Expression: Sixth Grade - First Place, Destiny Taylor, LCMS; Second Place, Faith Reddick, Portal; Third Place, Justin White, WJMS; Seventh Grade - First Place, John Strickland, SEBMS; Second Place, Keely Klein, SEBMS; Third Place, Sam Tillman, WJMS; Eighth Grade - First Place, Lauren Boddiford, SEBMS; Second Place, Ashley Owusu, SEBMS; Roy Williamson, LCMS.
s Vocabulary: Sixth Grade - Sara Gravley, WJMS; Second Place, Destiny Geddis, SEBMS; Third Place, Jameson Orvis, WJMS; Seventh Grade - First Place, Micah Karthner, LCMS; Second Place, Alex Wagner, WJMS; Third Place, Tanner Todd, SEBMS; Eighth Grade - First Place, Megan Vande Linde; Second Place, Anji Li, LCMS; Third Place Whitt Van Tassel, WJMS.
s Mental Concentration: Sixth Grade - First Place, Wyatt Turner, SEBMS; Second Place, Zach Clifton, SEBMS; Third Place, Nick Thorne, SEBMS; Seventh Grade - First Place, Pierce Lux, WJMS; Second Place, Ellie Bailey, LCMS; Third Place, Eric Riggs, SEBMS; Eighth Grade - First Place, Josh Woods, SEBMS; Second Place, Taylor Lewis, SEBMS; Third Place, Sam Tanaka Blitch, SEBMS.
s Composition: Sixth Grade - First Place, Ria Mitra, WJMS; Second Place, Ashley Williams, WJMS; Third Place, Keri Carter, PMHS; Seventh Grade - First Place, Shelby Groover, SEBMS; Second Place, Alexis Costlow, WJMS; Third Place, Madison Jackson, LCMS; Eighth Grade - First Place, Samantha Goodman, SEBMS; Second Place, Natasha Liston-Beck, LCMS; Third Place, Hayden Farthing, SEBMS.
s Overall Grade Winners: Sixth Grade - Tie between SEBMS and WJMS; Seventh Grade - WJMS; Eighth Grade - SEBMS; Overall Champion - SEBMS.

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