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Sharp middle schooler wins Newton County Spelling Bee

Sharp Learning Center seventh-grader Courage Ogie won the 2011 Newton County School System Spelling Bee on Friday morning at Eastside High School after correctly spelling "designate." Liberty Middle School eighth-grader Breanna Harris took the runner-up spot in the event.

Sharp Learning Center seventh-grader Courage Ogie won the 2011 Newton County School System Spelling Bee on Friday morning at Eastside High School after correctly spelling "designate." Liberty Middle School eighth-grader Breanna Harris took the runner-up spot in the event.

COVINGTON -- Courage Ogie knows he defied a stereotype on Friday morning.

The Sharp Learning Center seventh-grader took first place in the Newton County Spelling Bee by correctly spelling the word "designate" for the win.

"I'm feeling great; I think it's wonderful that I'm a representative of Sharp, and people don't have to think that we are bad," Ogie said Friday after he won the hour-long event. "We're brilliant and determined."

Twenty fourth- through eighth-grade students competed in the event at Eastside High School. After six rounds of spelling words like "grammar," "villain," "shepherd" and "vaccine," it came down to two contestants -- Ogie and Breanna Harris, an eighth-grader at Liberty Middle School.

After several more rounds of spelling such words as "zealous," "query" and "apostle," Ogie took the lead when Harris incorrectly spelled the word "conjecture;" Ogie correctly spelled the word, as well as "designate" for the win.

His social studies teacher Callie Jones-Smith said Ogie is one of her best students and scores high on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests.

"He's very intelligent," she said. "He asks a lot of questions and wants everything just right."

Ogie, who has attended Sharp since sixth grade, said he hopes he has shown other students that they can keep trying again and again no matter what.

"It doesn't matter how you start; it's how you finish," said Ogie, the son of Courage Airhehenbuwa and Cachena Warren.

Harris, daughter of Roberta Freeman, said she was nervous but excited about the spelling bee.

"I like spelling and learning how to spell new words," she said, adding that a few of the words in the spelling bee were hard. "It helps you with your vocabulary."

The winner and runner-up each received a trophy, and all of the contestants received a certificate.

"All of these boys and girls are winners," said Dr. Ken Proctor, director of elementary schools at NCSS. "We want our students to be literate and perform well when they're writing and continuing to learn and grow."

The winner of Newton County's Spelling Bee will move on to compete in the regional spelling bee, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. Feb. 26 at Putnam County Middle School in Eatonton. The state bee is scheduled for 11 a.m. March 18 at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

"The kids all did really well," said NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews. "They should be proud of their performances."