Sparta High School Student Uses STEM Passion to Help Others

Christopher Murray is working to promote Code to Hope
Christopher Murray also plays on the varsity soccer team.

SPARTA, NJ – A Sparta High School student is using his passion for math and science to help others.  Senior Christopher Murray is working to promote Code to Hope  locally. 

The Code to Hope organization that seeks to improve digital literacy and education in Africa has resonated with Murray. He found out about it while at a summer program at Johnson & Johnson.  Code to Hope was founded by Philemon Padnonou of Benin, a software developer at Johnson & Johnson.

Padnonou got his education in the United States, though he arrived with “little to no technical competency,” according to the Code to Hope website.  He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering, realizing the importance of technical literacy for success. 

Sign Up for E-News

Murray’s mother has been at Johnson & Johnson for nearly 40 years allowing him to participate in a number of STEM or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, programs at their global IT headquarters in Raritan. 

“One such great event called the Digital & Analytics Boot Camp for Advanced High School Students this past June,” Murray said. 

The event spanned several days giving a “learning experience into the corporate world,” for students “planning to study STEM related fields and possibly intern at Johnson & Johnson,” with an emphasis on career skills in STEM for “promising future leaders,” according to Murray.  It was at this event that Murray learned of Code to Hope.

The mission of the organization is “to fight poverty by giving future leaders the tools they need to empower their communities,” according to their website.  Accessibility to technology can be directly linked to the household income, according to statistics from the organization. 

Johnson & Johnson is the main sponsor of the organization according to Murray.  He is spreading the word about Code to Hope, hoping to speak with the board of education and others to get some of the computers that are slated to be discarded to be donated instead. 

Additionally, Murray plans to speak with his peers “to see if other students might be able to help.”  Help can come in the form of donated technology as well as funds to purchase computers and help with shipping.  A pledge of time is also valuable with opportunities for people to get involved with “various initiative Code to Hope hosts.”

Being a senior at Sparta High School is not enough for this motivated student. He has also been taking classes at Sussex County College during the summer and  plans to continue through the school year.  After graduation Murray said his plan “without a doubt” is to attend college to pursue a degree in BioMathmatics.    

He is quick to recognize teachers that have had a strong influence on him.  His says his love for math began in middle school and his connection to biology began in high school.

“Derek Hall really supercharged my interest in Math in ninth grade. Then I had Johnessa Sakellaropoulos and Susan Vnenchak,” Murray said. “This coming year, believe it or not, I’m lucky enough to have both Mrs. Sakellaropoulos and Ms. Vnenchak so I have been really lucky to have fantastic Math Teachers all through high school.

“I had Thomas DiNunzi for ninth grade Environmental Science, “Murray said.  “He has become kind of a mentor in science.  Last year in AP Biology Kenneth Scognamiglio helped me also to decide that I really wanted biology to be part of my future.  I owe a lot to both of them, as with my math teachers.”

It is not all work for the senior.  He plays varsity soccer and baseball. Murray has started “a small training company called Sports for Kids Training Academy.”  He volunteers with Sparta Recreation to help younger children in his favorite sports. 

“Also, to help pay for my car I work part time at the Rock Island Lake Club,” Murray said.  “Nothing fancy, just a restaurant attendant.”

As for his future beyond Sparta High School, Murray has already applied to Rutgers, his target school as well as Seton Hall, The College of New Jersey, Rowan, Fairleigh Dickenson University and will soon apply to William Paterson.

“BioMathmatics is so flexible, I probably won’t know exactly which job or career I want until after a few years of college,” Murray said.

Murray encourages anyone interested in the programs and initiatives to contact the organization directly.


TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Sparta Police Pick Up Franklin Woman Driving While Suspended

March 18, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – A traffic stop yielded an arrest for driving with a suspended license for a Franklin woman.  On March 13 around 11:30 p.m. Sparta Police Officer Timothy Lynott stopped Christina Bradford on Route 15 for having a broken tail light on her gray GMC pickup, police report.

When the officer checked her credentials, he found Bradford’s license had been suspended and she ...


March 11, 2018



Republican Freeholder Candidates, Dawn Fantasia and Josh Hertzberg commended the District 24 Legislators for taking action in the wake of the horrific school shooting that took the lives of 17 at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.   


Senator Oroho, Assemblyman Space and ...

Alex Majewski Joins Race for Newton Town Council

NEWTON, NJ – Alex Majewski officially launched his campaign this week for Newton Town Council, pledging to make municipal government work by placing residents and taxpayers first.

“A new beginning for Newton starts now.  We need to strengthen the communication and interaction between residents, business owners, and public servants,” Majewski said. “Newton ...

Upcoming Events


Sat, March 24, 6:00 PM

Perona Farms, Sparta

Trout Unlimited Annual Fund Raising Banquet

Arts & Entertainment

Sun, April 8, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River



Fri, April 13, 5:00 PM

Sparta High School Auditorium, Sparta

2nd Annual Jazz Festival at Sparta High School

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, April 14, 9:00 AM


Jr Lions Football - Meet & Greet

Education Sports

Sun, April 22, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River


Sun, May 13, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River


Sun, May 27, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River


Sun, June 10, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River


Sun, June 24, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River


Sparta Police: Bronx Man Delivering Car Finds Himself in Trouble

March 21, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – A man from Bronx, New York was arrested on a myriad of charges stemming from his attempt to deliver a used car to Montague.  Jorge Villanueva caught the attention of Sparta Police Officer Erick Finley on Route 15 because his Nissan Pathfinder had a cracked taillight, police say.

On March 13 around 7:22 p.m. the officer found the license plate on the Pathfinder was ...

Artificial Intelligence (AI): The New Space Race

March 21, 2018

Artificial Intelligence (AI) seems to be a rising component of Silicon Valley, Tesla for cars and space, and for IBM for it is the use of Watson, its high powered super computer for research! There are three types of AI by businesses:
1. Process Automation, which simply described is the automation of digital and physical tasks, which can range from some clerical and banking functions.

6 Easy Ways to Increase Zzzz’s During National Sleep Awareness Month and Beyond!

Team Nest Builder knows sleep deprivation leads to a myriad of problems, so we’re here to help you make your New Jersey home bedrooms the havens you deserve! Take a look at these simple ideas for increasing your zzzzz’s:

Soften Up

Employ a large area rug that covers the entire room to help absorb sound and enhance comfort.

Feeling Blue

According to a study by Travelodge, ...

4 Top Reasons NOW Is A Great Time To Buy A New Jersey Home

Team Nest Builder offers four great reasons to consider buying a home today instead of waiting:

Prices Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that home prices appreciated by 6.6% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.3% over the next year.  The bottom in home prices came and left. Home values will ...

The Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders March 14 2018 meeting video

NEWTON, NJ - The Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders March 14 2018 meeting video.



AtlantiCast: Episode 13

On this episode of AtlantiCast, new clinical studies in the fields of cardiology and immunotherapy, national and statewide recognitions for Atlantic Health System medical centers and the inaugural AtlantiCast Collab Challenge!


Sussex County NOW Co-Sponsoring the March for Our Lives Newton

March 21, 2018

NEWTON, NJ - On Saturday, March 24th at 12PM, Sussex County NOW will proudly stand in solidarity with our co-sponsors, the Vernon High School Young Advocates Club and all of the other young leaders, both locally and nationally, who have organized a movement in the wake of the Parkland, FL school shooting to demand that students’ lives and safety finally take priority over the concerns of ...