SPARTA, NJ – How would history have changed if Christopher Columbus had GPS? Sparta High School student Simon Levien’s essay on the topic earned him first place in the local chapter of the Nationa Society of the Daugthers of the American Revolution essay contest.
Levien explored that possibility in his essay entitled “Technology’s Impact on the Voyage of Christopher Columbus,” submitted to the Ferro Monte Chapter of DAR. Competing against students in the Ledgewood area Levein said he thought he “has a pretty good chance of winning the contest because [of the win] at the chapter level.” The essay was then entered at the state level where Simon was selected as a third place winner.
The sophomore took on the challenge because “I thought writing the essay would give me another chance to practice my writing skills. It took a couple hours to write.”
Levien’s interests are not limited to writing. Despite claiming to “not even be that good at math,” he recently participated in the USA Mathematical Talent Search. He has also recently established a local chapter of Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Honor Society at the high school. Ready to go into effect next year, he founded the club because “the closest we had to a math based organization at Sparta High School was the Computer Science Club, so [he] decided to make [his] own.”
Levien thought giving students incentive to join the honor society “might change the minds” of those who do not like math. He said his math teacher Susan Vnenchak and Derek Hall will be the club advisors.
As a member of the marching band, jazz band, science league and debate club, Levien says he “likes to sleep in his free time.”
The DAR organization is “a network of women who form lifelong bonds, honor our ancestors, promote historic preservation, education, and patriotism in our communities." All members of the DAR can prove lineal descent from patriots of the American Revolution.
Their essay contest encourages students to explore and reflect on America’s history. Essays are judged not only on the quality of the writing but on the accuracy of the historical information.
Levien will be honored for his winning essay at the Chapter Awards Ceremony in April and at the state Award Ceremony in Princeton later this spring.
“I would like to extend my thanks to Mr. Brennan for reviewing my essay (if he didn't see my email) and to the math department for making this possible,” Levien said.
Levien will join other honorees at the American Revolution Annual Awards Day Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Princeton on April 28
“His interest in societal conditions on the past, present, and future, as well as his fluid writing style, have allowed Simon to give voice to significant contemporary issues,” English Supervisor Mary Hassenplug said.
At this time last year, Simon was recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists for his winning essay on “Why it is important that we have news media that are independent of the government.”