Sparta High School Russian Students Earn Medals for Essays

Sparta High School Russian students win medals in essay contest Credits: Jennifer Dericks
Sparta High School Russian students participated in essay contest Credits: Jennifer Dericks

SPARTA, NJ – The results are in and Sparta High School Russian students scored high.  For the first time in more than a decade Eric Hood and William Brennan had students participate in the Annual National Russian Essay Contest. Each of the Sparta Russian students earned a medal; six Gold, 10 Silver and five Bronze.

“Mr. Brennan and I were very pleased with our results,” Hood said.

Sparta had 21 students sit for the essay contest in November, joining 1,201 participants nationally.  Participants were eligible to win Gold, Silver, Bronze medals or earn an Honorable Mention certificate. There was also the possibility that the student would not receive any recognition.

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The students were given two hours to create an essay on an unknown topic.  Once they arrived at the high school’s media center they were told the assignment was to write a letter to a famous person, alive or dead asking for advice on a personal or national challenge.

“Not knowing the topic, I think I was pretty well prepared,” Junior Hannah Newbold said.  Newbold plans to attend the United States Air Force Academy after graduation.

Freshman Lauren Groff wrote her essay about John Lennon because she had “just done an English project [on Lennon] and I had interesting facts with a lot of details.”  Groff plans to compete in the Olympiada and likes to write.

“Mr. Hood and I are extremely proud of our students who all volunteered to write the essays and missed their morning classes to participate,” Brennan said.  “Credit also has to be extended to Suzie Jouravlev who taught all of these students in middle school and established the initial foundation of Russian vocabulary, writing and grammar (and even more importantly, interest and enthusiasm) that Eric and I can build on here at the high school.”

Students that participated:

Brian Cabrera – Bronze,

Stephanie Downes –  Silver,

Kaylea Gaughan – Bronze

Juleanna Green - Silver

Katie Hannan - Silver

Caroline Kepler - Silver

Sylvia Kloian - Silver

Simon Levien – Gold,

Jessica Longstreth – Gold,

Patrick McGurrin - Gold

Zoe Merold – Silver,

Sara Nigro - Bronze,

Jillian Parks - Bronze,

Rachel Raffino - Silver,

Delaney Sniffen - Gold,

Sophie Venus - Bronze,

Hope Zwigard - Silver,

Hannah Newbold - Silver

Ryan Cilli - Gold

Lauren Groff - Gold,

Kathrik Selvaraj - Silver

“I am happy the students had another way to use their Russian in another venue,” Hood said.  “It is also good for the [Russian] program.”

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Upcoming Events


Tue, March 20, 6:30 PM

Sparta United Methodist Church, Sparta

Girl Scout STEAM Program

Arts & Entertainment Education


Sat, March 24, 9:30 AM

Sparta Recreation Department, Sparta

Breakfast with the Easter Bunny

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, March 24, 10:30 AM

Dykstra Park, Sparta

UNICO Easter Egg Hunt

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, March 24, 6:00 PM

McKenna Hall, Our Lady of the Lake Parish, Sparta

Night with NJ Giants #53 Harry Carson Beefsteak


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

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Sat, April 14, 9:00 AM


Jr Lions Football - Meet & Greet

Education Sports

Sun, April 22, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

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