SPARTA, NJ – Parents crowded into the Sparta High School media center in the morning on June 7 for the Underclassmen Awards ceremony.  The event was hosted by Principal Janet Ferraro and distributed recognition to the students of the freshman, sophomore and junior classes.  Each department nominated students of the year.  After the awards were announce everyone shared a bagel breakfast.

English supervisor Mary Hassenplug went first announcing the English department students of the year.  The ninth grade student was Olivia Finkledie.  Finkledie’s teacher Kate Brennan described her as “curious, eager, hardworking and always willing to participate in an good ole’ intellectual duel…she is as loving as she is smart and as she is strong.”

Simon Levien was recognized for the tenth grade.  His English teacher said Levien “has found a way to combine his love of writing with his love of science and he uses that combination to showcase his talents in each subject.”  Levien’s writing has won a number of awards and been published in a variety of formats [including TAPnto Sparta.net].”

Sign Up for E-News

For grade 11 Hailey Mead was chosen by Jamie Barker.  Barker said, “She meticulously hones her skills in class and has consistently worked to develop her voice in AP Language.  She models the academic inquiry, collaborating and maturity that transform class culture.”

Mathematics Supervisor Katie Arbolino announced the Computer Programing and Mathematics department awards. 

Conor MacFarlane, a freshman Computer Programming 1 and 2 student “has created excellent projects including his current version of the well-loved classic Pacman” according to his teacher. 

Sophomore Michael Ryan studied Computer Programing 1 and 2 last year and is in Computer Science 1 Java.  His teacher said Ryan “is a focused and motivated coder.”

Alexander “AJ” Viola is a junior in the AP Computer Science using Java course.  His teacher said, “AJ is a very quick learner of programming topics, Computer Science concepts and excels at coding and problem solving.”

The freshman mathematics student of the year is Alisa Williamson.  Her teacher Michael Walsh said, “Alisa has worked very hard both in and outside of class to gain the algebra skills she needed to thrive in geometry.”

Sophomore Chad Hannigan is a student in Andrew Bayliss’ Honors Pre- calculus class.  “He came into this year determined to do well and he more than succeeded.”

Ben Dottinger represented the junior class.  His teacher Susan Vnenchak said, “He has consistently received high grades over the year through being active in classroom discussions and offering insightful solutions to problems…often what leads the class to the next level of the problem.”

The Science department awards were announced by Supervisor Marisa Wilson.

Olivia Finkeldie was once again called to the podium.  The Honors Biology student was named for the freshmen class.  Her teacher Thomas DiNunzio said, “Her conduct embodies the nature of scientific inquiry, making her a notable science learner and problem solver.”

Julia Young was chosen from the sophomore class. Honors Chemistry teacher Larry Brady said, “Julia exhibited incredible mastery of the chemistry content and approached the topic with great enthusiasm.”

Physics student Kayla Edwards was selected from the junior class. Dana Miller said, “Kayla demonstrates the creativity, curiosity and drive that make a good scientist.”

Supervisor Michael Lauricella presented the awards for the Social Studies and World Language departments. 

Jessica Fenners was the freshman selected for her work in Honors World History.  Fenner’s teacher said, “She has distinguished herself academically through her inquisitive nature and dedicated work ethic in class.”

For the tenth grade, Bailey Plotts was selected.  Her teacher said, “Bailey is self-motivated and demonstrates persistence in the way she attacks tasks which will serve her well in the future.”

Quinlan Van Es earned the award for the junior class for his work in AP U.S. History.  His teacher said, “Quinn’s performance in AP U.S. History exemplifies an actively engaged global citizen from Sparta High School.”

Garrett Stewart was chosen from the freshman class for the World Language award.  His teacher Valerie Cole said, “He is thorough, diligent and extremely self-motivated…a recipe for success in a world language classroom.”

Sophomore Mikayla Bivona was selected by her teacher Michael Bendorf.  Bendorf said, “Her perseverance and enjoyment of reading and learning will definitely serve her well in the future.”

The junior World Language student Tatiana Esteven-Ingram was nominated by Matthew Hartman.  Hartman said, “Tatiana is a very active junior student.  She’s an athlete and participates in other clubs at Sparta High School…she has impressed me with regards to her desire to improve.”

Vice Principal Steven Schels presented the awards for Art and Technology, Career and Consumer Science.

Jessica Fenners was selected by Art teachers Robin Cutillo and Chrisitne Mase.  Her teachers said she is an “outstanding freshman in the Visual Arts in both Photography and Painting and Drawing.  She has a drive to do well in class motivating others by her high level of completing the assignments.”

Art teacher Jen Kuchar-Csatlos Chose Madison Schwing to represent the tenth grade.  She said, “It is amazing how such a quiet student can stand out so very much.  She is a true pleasure to have in class showcasing the perfect blend of creativity, industriousness and dedication to excellent craftmanship.”

Cutillo and Kristin Lindsley named junior Mallory Collins.  They said, “Mallory is a creative individual with a genuine interest in the arts.  Her work stands out as an inspiration to others…Her charcoal drawing was chosen for the NJ State Teen Arts Festival.”

Freshman Samuel Wolstenholme was nominated by his teacher Jenevieve D’Amico from the Technology, Career and Consumer Science department.  D’Amico said, Sam is ready to take on any challenge in the kitchen. “He competed with D’Amico in the Culinary Throw Down putting “all of the skills he has learned this year in culinary to help our team win.”

Julia Muth was chosen by Robotics teacher Mark Meola.  The tenth grade student “has been an outstanding member of the robotics team,” according to Meola. Her team won the Build Award and a trip to the state championships.  “Julia was a primary mechanical engineer whose tireless work and attention to detail propelled her team to success.”

The junior class was shared by James Lynch and Liam Cooke

Douglas Krauland, Lynch’s Broadcast Journalism teacher said, Lynch has been a “dependable staple… and he demonstrates leadership skills. James is always eager to learn new and creative ways to improve on each project he tackles.”
Jeff Trzcinski said, “Liam is a student who values and appreciates a high level of detail. Liam strives for accuracy and precision.  Liam has a creative ability to enhance the quality and appearance of a project.”

The Business and Marketing and Music awards were announced by Director of Athletics and Co-Curricular Activities Steve Stoner. 

Freshman Rachel Sosik was selected for her work in the classroom and with DECA.  Her teacher said, “Rachel has been an outstanding student.  She always produces work at the highest caliber…Rachel has a very bright future in the business/DECA program.”

Michaela Bleakley was chosen from the sophomore class.  Bleakley's teacher said, "Michaela i a hardworking, responsible and caring individual...As an active member of DECA she reached Nationals at the highest level of competition.  Very talented and articulate, Michaela continues to challeng herself academically and always manages to mee each challenge with success."

Serena Calafati and Joe Serovich were chosen to represent the junior class.  

Serena Calafati's teacher said, “Serena has really improved over the year… Serena spearheaded the poinsettia fundraiser sale with Joe Serovich which got them to Anaheim California at the National DECA competition.”

Joe Serovich was recognized for his work in the DECA program.  His teacher said, “The way Joe completes his projects and presentations are top notch.  Joe not only excels in the classroom but outside of it as well.”

Alan Young, a freshman was selected for his work in various bands and choirs at Sparta High School.  His teacher said, “Alan Yeung is a multi-faceted musician as he performs in Symphonic Band, Jazz Band, Freshman Select Choir and the Blue Nights Men’s Choir.  He is an extremely dedicated member of all groups and is a role model in his performance, work ethic and attitude.”

Sophomore Joe Dempsey was chosen for his participation and leadership in bands at the high school.  Dempsey’s family said, “Joe is a quiet force who is always working to better himself and willing to help.”  Next year he will be a captain in the Marching Band and a member of the Wind Ensemble and Blues, Inc! jazz ensemble.

The award for the junior class was shared by Sarah Mathusek and Ben Dottinger.

Mathusek’s teacher said, “Sara is a talented and dedicated violinist.  She has been the first chair violinist of the Honors Philharmonic orchestra for the past two years.  She is active in the chamber music club and plays in the pit for musicals for the past three years.  She is concert mistress for the Sussex County Youth Orchestra, recently learned to play the viola and is a TAP for the Symphony Orchestra.” 

Dottinger’s teacher said, “Ben is a drum major for the marching band as well as the lead in Blues Inc!, Jazz Ensemble and Honors Wind Ensemble.  He always asks how he can help and is both a fine saxophonist and pianist.”

Vice Principal Rory Fitzgerald announced the Physical Education and Health department award winners.  

  • Alisa Williamson - 9th grade Physical Education
  • William Stoddard - 10th grade Physical Education
  • Alexis Faria - 11th grade Physical Education
  • Rachel Sosik - 9th grade Health
  • Rachel Raffino - 10th grade Health
  • Christopher Murray - 11th grade Health

Additional awards from organizations and universities outside of Sparta High School were announced by Kacey Dalton, Director of Guidance.  They along with the Principal’s award will be listed in Part II.