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Siegel, Riverdale students at Linquistics Olympiad

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Linguistics Olympiad participants included, top to bottom, from right to left:
Lauren Rigsby, Jade Watts, and Anna Smith, of Riverdale High School.
Cole Garrett and Caety Carter of Riverdale High School.
Tom Savady and Anne Guiler of Riverdale High School, Timothy Blackwell
of Greenway School, a competing middle schooler.
Josh Milam, Amber Leigh Williams, and Rachel Rounion of Siegel High School.
(not pictured: Sophie Boehm and Christina Witt of Siegel High School)

The first Linguistics Olympiad organized by the Linguistics Club of MTSU took place Saturday, March 3 on the campus of MTSU.

This academic competition was composed of a written and an audiovisual component. The written examination included traditional linguistics problems, such as identifying the word formation pattern of a foreign language based on presented data, as well as fun activities, such as deciphering proverbs from other languages, finding commonalities among English words, or decoding cryptic messages.

The audiovisual portion challenged the students to recognize patterns in nonverbal behavior and indicate characteristic features in the speech of non-native speakers of English. Participants had the choice of participating in an individual or a team competition. Three individuals and three teams participated.

The winners in the individual competition were: first place, Rachel Rounion of Siegel High School; second place, Josh Milam of Siegel High School; and third place, Amber Leigh Williams of Siegel High School.

The winners in the team competition were: first place, Josh Milam, Rachel Rounion, Sophie Boehm, and Christina Witt of Siegel High School; second place, Cole Garrett, Caety Carter, Anne Guiler, and Tom Savady of Riverdale High School; and third place, Anna Smith, Lauren Rigsby, and Jade Watts of Riverdale High School.

The teachers whose students competed are Renessa Yokley of Riverdale High School and Belinda Juergens of Siegel High School. Elizabeth Church of the Rutherford County Board of Education deserves recognition for being enthusiastic about this competition ever since Dr. Aleka Blackwell, the linguistics club advisor, approached her with the idea last fall.

The competition problems were created and scored by MTSU professors, Drs. Mohammed Albakry, Aleka Blackwell, Will Langston, and Timothy Wilt, and linguistics club president Ryan Parsons, club vice-president Jennifer Moorman, and club historian Keith Barnes. Additional linguistics club members who assisted with the competition are Bethany Graves, Jennifer Holder, Stephanie Schott, and Monica Villarreal.

“Most exciting was seeing the competing teams enthusiastically debating among themselves while solving the problems. The competition was invigorating for everyone involved. The Linguistics Club of MTSU members, and especially the club president, Ryan Parsons, deserve all the recognition. This competition was a success because of their hard work, energy, and professionalism. I hope we can turn this into an annual event,” said Dr. Aleka Blackwell, associate professor of English and advisor of the Linguistics Club of MTSU.
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