SPARTA, NJ – Sparta High School inducted 29 freshmen into the STEM academy Class of 2022.  The Biomedical strand continues to be the largest class with 18.  Engineering inducted seven students and Computer Science has four. 

The first class of the STEM Academy are seniors this year.  The 13 Biomedical students are working on their capstone project and played a leadership role in this year’s ceremony.

Parents and siblings attended the White Coat ceremony on Thursday morning in the Sparta High School media center.  Senior Sophie Venus welcomed the audience.  Madison Levinson presented the keynote address.

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Levinson explained the selective course of study is “more than just a STEM academy, it is a well rounded program.”

The academy students take their STEM electives along with an Honors/AP course sequence.  They take classes with students outside of the academy.  They have lunch and physical education classes with their peers as well.

“It helped me mature,” Levinson said.  She explained the concern about junior year being the toughest academically “is a myth.”  She said it was “just another year” because she was accustomed to a rigorous course load.

In order to remain in the STEM Academy students must maintain an 85 or higher in their honors/AP courses according to the district web site.

“As the keynote speaker pointed out, this program is more than just a STEM Academy,” Science Supervisor Marisa Wilson said. “Students have the opportunity to develop their skills across many content areas in order to be as well rounded as possible. We are so proud of all our STEM students.” 

Biomedical Inductees:

Connor Ailara, Cole Anderson, Maika Batchelor, Natalie Blaszak, Matthew Bouma-Hannam, Brianna Burns, Olivia Enderle, Katherine Groome, Shannon Huhn, Nicholas Hwang, Kavya Kamath, Colin Kowalski, Georgia Paraskos, Elizabeth Russo, Jake Ryan, Paige Sumowski, Kaleigh West and Jordan White.

Engineering Inductees:

Hayden Budofsky, Jack Budofsky, Joseph Byrnes, Matthew Byrnes, Jack Maraziti, Kayleigh Simpson and Nicholas Ventresca

Computer Science Inductees:

Sarah Bargfrede, Laurel Ferguson, Shaelin Murphy and Andrew Stefancik

Students are selected to join the program in middle school.  To be considered, students must have taken Algebra or a higher level of math by the end of eighth grade, have a grade of A- in academic subjects, have a recommendation from core subject teachers.  Additionally, the students must take a Science Skills placement test and have a good behavioral record. 

Parents are sent a letter in the early spring about the assessment. Application to the academy occurs when the student signs up for the Science Skills placement test.  Students are notified of their status by June 15, according to the district website.

Students from other school districts are able to apply for the Sparta academy as a tuition student.  They are held to the same standards.

“I'm very proud of these students, their teachers and the academic program,” Interim Principal Cecil “Bud” Beavers said. “It's impressive.”

The senior Biomedical students are currently working on their capstone projects which includes an internship and a thesis.

  • Caroline Kepler is interning with Peak Performance rock climbing gym where she is working with disabled students.
  • Stephanie Downes is interning with the Sparta Ambulance Squad.  Her project studies the affects of physical therapy on premature infants.
  • Ashley Lasko is interning at an elementary school.  She will be creating a video about teaching science to elementary students.  She is hoping to attend RIT next fall.
  • Alyssa Stouch is interning a Sparta Imaging Care where she is evaluating the effectiveness of using DEXA scans that measures bone mineral density.  She will be attending Lehigh in the fall.
  • Venus is doing her internship in-house with physical education teachers, evaluating the effects of physical education on the cognitive and overall mental health of students. She plans to attend college in Washington DC.
  • Nick Malkiwski is interning at the Regional Cancer Care Associates where his mother is an oncologist.  He is studying advances in cancer treatment.  Malkiwaki will attend TCNJ in September.
  • Billy Stoddard is studying the affects of obesity on osteoarthritis at Andover Mohawk Physical Therapy with Dustin Collier.  He has applied to Dartmouth, Holy Cross, Rutgers and Syracuse. 
  •  Simon Levine is doing his internship in-house with Kenneth Scognamglio.  His project is based on CRIPSPR Lab kit systems. 
  • William Theilacker is interning at Andover Animal Hospital shadowing the veterinarians.  He will be attending Clemson next year.
  • Jessical Longstreth is also interning at Andover Animal Hospital working with Diabetic Alert dogs.  She will be attending Virginia Tech.
  • Sarah West is interning with a therapist on a program to help with anxiety in students.  She will be attending Cornell.
  • Levinson is interning at a pharmacy in Randolph evaluating the impact of prescription marketing on consumers in a chain pharmacy versus a family owned store.

 “The Sparta STEM Academy is the epitome of a future ready school,” Superintendent Michael Rossi said.  “The combination of our dedicated, talented and caring employees with our dynamic students makes it a program to rival any in the state.” 

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