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Darts and laurels

Laurels to all the nerdy kids out there ó and we sincerely mean that as a compliment. One of the great things about the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which concluded Thursday in Washington, is that it puts studious youngsters in the spotlight and provides prime-time recognition for their achievements. For a few days, at least, being a brainiac like bee winner Kavya Shivashankar is just as cool as being an athletic star or a grungy musician. If you think it takes moxy to go before the scowling judges on “American Idol,” try spelling “Laodicean” or “apodyterium” before a national television audience, with $40,000 in prizes and a huge trophy on the line.
The spelling bee isn’t the only showcase for smarts, of course. There’s also the National Academic Quiz Tournament, which takes place in Chicago this weekend and includes a team from Salisbury High among the competitors. Salisbury is now the only N.C. school to go to the tournament for two consecutive years. Its four team members will pit their intellectual prowess against representatives from other schools by answering questions on a range of subjects.
Besides showcasing academic stars, these competitions help vanquish the myth that brainy kids are socially aawkward and lacking in poise. In reality, they’re well-rounded scholars who have a high degree of self-confidence and composure.
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Dart to state legislators who embrace their work too enthusiastically. That was the case with Rep. Cary Allred, who found himself mired in controversy for giving a female page a lengthy hug and kiss. Allred claimed it was just a friendly gesture toward a young lady of his acquaintance ó not the Capitol offense it was made out to be in the media. But given recent history involving bad behavior toward interns, Allred should have had sound enough judgment to realize his actions, however innocent, crossed the line of propriety. Apparently, friendship wasn’t all that fogged his thinking, however. In a report about the incident, two of his fellow Republican legislators said he appeared to have been drinking or smelled of alcohol and was particularly agitated during a floor debate that evening. After threatening to leave the Republican Party, Allred realized the better path was to leave the Legislature. He now says he’ll step down on Monday.

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