Sparta High School STEM Academy Students Receive Their White Coats

The 14 member of the first class of Sparta High School's STEM Academy the Janet Ferraro, Marisa Wilson, Sarah Pisano and Daniel Johnson. Credits: Jennifer Dericks
Students enjoying breakfast after the ceremony. Credits: Jennifer Dericks
Credits: Jennifer Dericks
Credits: Jennifer Dericks
Credits: Jennifer Dericks
Credits: Jennifer Dericks

SPARTA, NJ – More than 40 family members, Sparta staff and administrators gathered in the Sparta High School Media Center Wednesday morning as the 14 students of the first STEM Academy class received their white lab coats.

Introductions were made by Science Supervisor Marisa Wilson as the students entered the room with their teacher Sarah Pisano. 

Principal Janet Ferraro welcomed everyone giving thanks to Wilson and Pisano. In her remarks, Ferraro said these students “will be the thinkers, innovators and leaders of tomorrow.” She said the areas of science, technology, engineering and math are “projected to have the greatest increase in job opportunities.”  Graduates of STEM programs will graduate with higher scores and graduate from universities with degrees in the STEM field. In closing she said, “We look to you as our future leaders.”

Sign Up for E-News

The student were then called to the podium to receive their white lab coats.  Pisano made closing remarks before inviting everyone to enjoy a light breakfast.

The supervisors Steven Schels, Mary Hassenplug, Chemistry teacher Angela Trzcinski, Assistant Principal Rory Fitzgerald, Assistant Superintendent Dr Daniel Johnson, Business Administrator Barbara Decker attended the celebration. 

After the program, Wilson said, “Presenting these 14 students with lab coats this morning was a very proud moment for everyone involved. As we stood and watched the group standing together with big smiles on their faces, the students, parents, teachers, and administration all felt the magnitude and impact that the STEM academy is adding to our already outstanding educational program. We are very excited for what's to come."

In an interview Pisano said, “We are so excited for this new program.”  Over the summer Pisano spent two weeks at Stevenson University receiving training for the freshman course called Principles of Biomedical Science. This course is the first of four Biomedical courses that the students will take throughout their high school career. The program follows Project Lead the Way curriculum. These courses are very similar to College Board's AP courses in that the students will have to sit for a national exam at the end of each course.

Many universities are also beginning to recognize high Project Lead the Way scores in the form of college credit according to Pisano. More importantly, these courses allow students to really explore the biomedical field through hands on labs. “In the first year alone, these students have the opportunity to complete labs dealing with forensic investigation, nutritional components of foods, testing for genetic disorders, antibiotic effectiveness, EKG and Blood pressure analysis and much more,” said Pisano.

Sophie Venus’s mother Deb said, “Abraham Lincoln said, ‘The best way to predict your future is to create it.’ Congratulations on your induction Sophie.  We are proud of you and love you.”

STEM Academy student Sophie said, “It is a very good program. It is a lot of fun.”  This sentiment was echoed by the other girls at the table enjoying their bagels and fruit.  “Ditto,” they said.

Jessica added, “I’ve really enjoyed the program and am happy to have the opportunity.”

Marie Theilacker, William Theilacker’s mother said, “Wills loves the program.”

Simon Levien’s mother Anna Levien said, "I am very thrilled to see all these 14 kids pioneer this awesome program at the high school.  It is such an honor for our children to realize their potential, celebrated and supported.  As a parent, I can only be so grateful to our schools here in Sparta for supporting and encouraging our kids to do well. I am in awe of what they already accomplished at this early time of their academic journey."

Parent Bill Stoddard said, “My wife and I are proud of our son.  We are glad he has such a terrific opportunity though this program.  We appreciate that the science department and school has put together this program.”

Piasno explained Sparta is the only school in Sussex County that offers a nationally recognized Biomedical Stem Academy and only one of three schools in New Jersey that offer this program within 30 miles.  The two closest programs are offered in Newark Technology High School and North Plainfield High School. In total, there are only 10 other schools in New Jersey that offer Project Lead the Way Biomedical.

Sparta students are able to apply for the program in eighth grade.  Students outside of Sparta are able to apply to join this program or the general education program as a tuition student, much like a private school applicant. 

A grant from 7/11 helped defray the costs of the ceremony.  Principal Ferraro said the white coats were part of the supply budget for the program.  

Ferraro said in an interview, “We are very proud of our students who took the chance on being our inaugural STEM program students.   We look forward to watching them grow through the program and beyond.   We hope the community joins us in celebrating this exciting new chapter in the Sparta School District's history.  We will continue to partner with our entire school community as we expand the STEM Academy.”

For the 2016-2017 school year Engineering and Design will be added to the STEM Academy.  Computer Programing will be added in 2017 as well.  Each class of students follow their program through all four years of school.

Additional Photos

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Sparta Police: Blocked Plate Ends with Drug Charges

April 16, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – A Phillipsburg man pulled over for a traffic stop, ended up facing drug charges on April 11.  Around 7:55 p.m. on Route 15 Sparta Police Officer Steven Guido stopped a silver Saturn Ion for having an obstructed license plate, police report.

Charles Williams, 29, was driving with two passengers in the car.  When speaking with Williams, Guido smelled marijuana in the ...

Sparta Police: Running a Red Light ends with Drug Charges

SPARTA, NJ – A man stopped for driving through a red light on Route 15 wound up facing drug charges.  On March 30 Sparta Police Officer Thomas Herd pulled over Steven Lassends, 27in a black Infinity, on Route 15, police say.

When the officer spoke with the Montague resident, Herd smelled raw marijuana.  Herd, with the assistance of Sgt. Pensado, Cpl. Antonello and Police ...

Sparta Police: Traffic Stop Ends in Pot Arrest

SPARTA, NJ – A man from Ogdensburg is facing pot charges after a traffic stop on April 4 around 11 p.m. Police Office Thomas Herd pulled over a green Honda driven by John Malone, 23 for failing to move to the right lane, police report.

Herd smelled marijuana when speaking with Malone.  Malone admitted there was a “small marijuana roach” left in his car by a friend.

The Issue of Alternatives to Elected School Boards

April 14, 2018

The time of electing local school boards should come to an end. According to the National School Boards Association, “the local school board is a critical public link to public schools. Whether elected or appointed, school board members serve their communities in several important ways. First and foremost, school boards look out for students. Education is not a line item on the school ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, April 21, 9:00 AM


Earth Day Cleanup

Giving Back

Sun, April 22, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River


Sun, April 29, 3:30 PM

Codey Arena, West Orange

Girls Try Hockey Free Clinic


Fri, May 4, 7:00 PM

Sparta Evangelical Free Church, Sparta

Veritas Christian Academy presents The Music Man

Arts & Entertainment


Sun, May 6, 7:00 AM

Liberty State Park, Jersey City

11th Annual Susan G. Komen North Jersey Race for ...

Health & Wellness

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


Newton Council Candidates Call for Elections to be Moved

April 12, 2018

NEWTON, NJ – Four candidates for the Town of Newton Council have the same idea; move the election for council members to the November general elections.  Candidates Matt Dickson and Jason Schlaffer and Ludmilla Mecaj and Wayne Levante just do not agree on how to make that happen.

As a Faulkner Act town, Newton originally established their non-partisan elections to be held separately ...

Six 11th Congressional District Candidates Attend 'Town Hall Project Morristown' to Answer Questions on Gun Control

April 9, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ - Following a massive turnout of over 13,000 people at last month’s March for Our Lives Morristown rally, the students behind the march organized an event called “The Town Hall for Our Lives.” This event brought together 11th Congressional District candidates who were questioned by student panelists about their views on gun control and how make schools ...

Buy A Home To Build Your Family's Wealth

Over the next five years, home prices are expected to appreciate, on average, by 3.6% per year and to grow by 18.2% cumulatively, according to Pulsenomics’ most recent Home Price Expectation Survey. Team Nest Builder wants you to understand what that means for homeowners and their equity positions.

As an example, let’s assume a young couple purchased and closed on a $250,000 home ...

Now’s the Time to Buy Your NJ Luxury Home

House no longer fits your needs? Planning on buying a New Jersey luxury home? Now is the time to do so!

Recently, the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing released its Luxury Market Report which showed that in today’s premium home market, buyers are in control.  The inventory of homes for sale in the luxury market far exceeds the number of people searching to purchase these ...

Buy a Home NOW Before Mortgage Rates Climb Higher

Whether you’re a buyer searching for your first home, or a homeowner looking to move up to your next home, Team Nest Builder knows you should pay attention to where mortgage interest rates are heading.

Over the course of 2018, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, rates increased from 3.95% in the first week of January to 4.40% in the first week of April.

At ...

6 Simple Decorating Tricks for Your NJ Home

Ever watched “Trading Spaces” and wondered, “How do they pull together a beautiful room so quickly?”  Team Nest Builder knows! Read on for these 6 simple decorating tricks from the newly relaunched “Trading Spaces” stars.  You’ll be amazed at what a difference they make in your New Jersey home!

Let Your Heart Choose Your Art

Laurie Smith ...

Clean Your Closet and Help Sussex County Children By Donating Shoes

You know those shoes in the back of your closet that scream.”I grew up watching “Friends”’? Team Nest Builder wants to help YOU get rid of them while doing good for Sussex County children, through the Sojihuggles Children’s Foundation.

Now through May 15th, donate your gently worn, used or new shoes to help underprivileged children in Sussex County while ...

Want to avoid gaining weight? Don’t diet!

Researchers aiming to identify lifestyle factors related to weight management followed more than 4,500 young adults (average age 24) for ten years. At the end of the study period, 77% of the men and 72% of the women had gained weight. The lifestyle factors associated with no weight gain among the remaining 23% of the men and 28% of women were regular eating patterns (not skipping meals) and no ...

Free Family Expo Offers Resources and Fun Activities

April 20, 2018

Northern New Jersey parents and children are invited to Project Self-Sufficiency’s annual Family Expo, Thursday, April 26th, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.  Workshops for parents will be supplemented by children’s activities, dinner, gift card raffles and other events.  The Family Expo is sponsored by the Sussex County Family Success Center at Project Self-Sufficiency and Project ...