08/13/14 — Whiz kid

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Whiz kid

By Ethan Smith
Published in News on August 13, 2014 1:46 PM

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Jarret Raiford, 16, from Spring Creek High School, won the title for the FBLA National Champion in Microsoft Word 2010. Jarret works in Microsoft Word on the two screen computer in his room.

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Jarret attributes his success in the competition to favoring accuracy over speed.

Step aside, Bill Gates.

When Jarret Raiford's double-monitor Samsung desktop system fires up, so does his desire to be the best at Microsoft Word -- the best in the world, that is.

Raiford, a rising junior at Spring Creek High, competed in Nashville, Tenn., at the Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda National Leadership Conference for Microsoft Word.

He walked away with first place.

"In my first business class, my teacher mentioned the competition in a lesson," Raiford said. "I've always been really competitive, and I told her that I wanted to do that. I wanted to win."

The key to Raiford's success in the competition was not speed, but accuracy. He took test after test, beginning in February, each consisting of about 20 questions, that tested his ability to create and manipulate Microsoft Word documents.

But they didn't test the standard-fare knowledge of Microsoft Word. What was tested was much more advanced.

"It had things like putting in different context controls," Raiford said. "Things like tags and titles, and making it so that other people could only write or edit certain parts of the document. You really had to know how to manipulate the program."

Despite competing with over 10,000 students, Raiford kept his cool.

"There was a big room with laptops all around," Raiford said. "Then you had to take the certification test and score the highest in the shortest amount of time. My main thing was just trying to stay focused and not be intimidated and to get that perfect score."

The competition wasn't all business, either. Raiford said the participants stayed in the Opryland Hotel and Resort, which he described as "it's own little city. It had everything you could need, and it was like a whole separate place from Nashville," he said.

Raiford's business teachers, Jennifer Tyndall and Beverly Boltinhouse, say he is highly competitive.

"Jarret consistently displays a mastery of the Microsoft Office programs," said Beverly Boltinhouse, former Spring Creek High business teacher. "In addition to taking first place at the state and national FBLA competitions, Jarret also took first place in the Certiport state Microsoft Word 2010 competition and recently competed in Atlanta at the Certiport national competition. Although his time of completion was not as fast as other competitors in the timed event, he still earned a perfect 1000 score."

Due to a rule change that occurred two years ago, Raiford's first place win at the FBLA-PBL competition isn't enough to qualify him for the world competition -- this time.

In order to compete in the world competition, he needs to take first place at the Certiport national competition in Atlanta. He competed this year, but did not place.

Still, Raiford remains undeterred.

"I want to be the best in the world," he said. "Hopefully by this time next year we'll be talking about the world competition."

His parents couldn't be happier for their son.

"His father is a farmer, so he doesn't quite understand why Jarret likes computers," said Amy Raiford, his mother. "But we are both so proud of him."

For now, Raiford isn't entirely sure of what field he would like to go into, but plans on staying hungry and using his awards to earn scholarships to college -- and to be the best in the world.

"When I won one competition, I was recognized by the county," Raiford said. "As I was walking out, one guy looked at me and said, 'you're gonna be the next Bill Gates!' I think I'd like that. I think I can do that."