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UMass Announces Top Placing High School Students in National Chinese Language Speech Contest

Two Massachusetts Students Win First Place Titles

BOSTON: The University of Massachusetts today announced the national winners of the fourth annual Chinese Language Speech Contest, sponsored by the UMass Confucius Institute and CLASS, the Chinese Language Association for Secondary Schools.

The following students won first place for each division; Beginner-Rayshon Johnson, of Dorchester, Massachusetts, a ninth grader at Boston Latin School; Intermediate-Niklas Smedemark-Margulies, of Newton, Massachusetts, a 12th grader at Buckingham Browne & Nichols and Special-Faith Mulroy from Greens Farm Academy in Connecticut.

Commenting on the contest, University of Massachusetts President Jack M. Wilson congratulates the winning students, "These students have distinguished themselves through their commitment to study and master Mandarin. I applaud their success and encourage other Massachusetts students to follow their lead in exploring the language and culture of China-a global economic and cultural superpower."

President Wilson highlights the importance of the University's academic partnerships in China, "The University of Massachusetts offers its students life-changing international experiences and opportunities to interact with faculty, visiting scholars, and students from around the world. The University has a range of Chinese partnerships and initiatives that benefit students and faculty including a formal partnership with Tsinghua University and the first Confucius Institute established in New England."

It is the third consecutive year UMass has co-sponsored the national contest. All of the winning students received prizes and the first place finishers will have the opportunity to compete in the next World Contest in Beijing. Last year's U.S. national team, comprised of three Massachusetts students, placed second at the world competition.

Consulate Cen from the Office of the Chinese Consulate General in New York City; Dr. Marcellette G. Williams, University of Massachusetts Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Student Affairs & International Relations and David J. Gray, University of Massachusetts Senior Vice President for Administration, Finance & Technology joined students and contest judges for the competition and awards, held at CERNET in Marlborough.

By some estimates, in 2007, approximately 60,000 American students were studying Mandarin in the U.S., while in China, 11 million students studied English. Massachusetts often ranks among the top two states in the United States, along with California, for the number of high school students who study Chinese.


Robert P. Connolly, 774-455-7188

Libby DeVecchi, 774-455-7189



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