SPARTA, NJ – A long tradition was continued at the Lake Mohawk Country Club on Thursday as seven young ladies vied for the Miss Sparta crown.  The 82nd Annual event was organized by Laura Elnasser and Vicki Foley.

The three judges, none of whom are from Sparta selected Kate Fontes to represent Sparta for 2019.  Rebecca Greenberg was the First Runner Up and Olivia Cella received the Second Runner Up trophy.

All seven girls were evaluated on a personal interview with the judges, school and community involvement and accomplishments, poise and confidence, appearance as well as their response to two questions.

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The first question was selected based specifically on the individual, the second was the same question for all, “If you could talk to 10 year old you, what would you tell her?”

Hannah Fagersten, Miss Sparta 2018 addressed the crowd before naming the winners.  “It has been more than a title, being Miss Sparta made me go out of my comfort zone, giving me the confidence, perspective and the opportunity to meet people I would otherwise not have met.”

The girls, all seniors at Sparta High School, were presented in alphabetical order.

Cella has taken AP and honors classes and is a member of Pass it Along, Habitat for Humanity, Find the Courage, Science League, Women’s Choir, Honors Choir, National Arts Honor Society and Track.  She is also a certified yoga instructor. She will be attending California State University in Northridge to study nutritional science and continue to pursue her passion of acting. 

She answered her first question about being involved in a number of activities; “It’s fun trying different things to figure out what your passion is…I’m 17 and I already know what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

For the second question Cella said she would tell 10-year-old Olivia to “Live in the moment.”

Fontes has been the president of her class for three years, member of the National Honor Society and National Slavic Honor Society, member of DECA,  Sussex County Schools Counselors Association High School Caring Award, a member of the high school volley ball team, Pass it Along- Service Corps and Youth Leadership Conference, Tilly’s Kids and SCARC, Appalachia Service Project.

Fontes is heading to Seton Hall to study to become a Physician’s Assistant.  For her first question about advice she gave at the Youth Leadership Conference she helped to organize, Fontes told them “we are the best version of ourselves when we are helping others…Be a gracious and grateful person.”

“I’d love to do it, because I was a little ball of stress,” Fontes said answering the second question.  “I would say everything is going to be okay…Everything has led me to this place and I think it is a good place to be.”

Greenberg is ranked ninth in her graduating class, Executive President of the Student Council, member of National Honor Society, National World Language Honor Society, Principal Scholar Honor Roll every marking period, volunteers at Pass it Along and writes poetry.

Greenberg is heading to the University of Rochester to study Biomedical Engineering and Business Administration.  Asked what advice she would give high school freshmen, Greenberg said they should be prepared to make sacrifices, prioritize and stay organized. “Time management is very important.  My holy grail is my agenda.” [calendar]

“Enjoy the little things,” Greenberg would tell little Rebecca.  “Enjoy your mom telling you to eat your veggies and going to dance class.”

Grace Sander is Senator of the Senior Class, member of DECA, Homecoming Queen, has accumulated more than 570 community service hours while in high school with Pass it Along, Tilly’s Kids, President of Find the Courage, will attend Marist in the fall to study Business Administration. 

When asked which of her volunteering experiences spoke to her the most, Sanders said, “Pass it Along because you get to meet people you would not have gotten to meet as well as learning to put other people’s need before your own.” 

She would tell 10-year-old Grace “Everything is going to work out absolutely fine…and listen to your mother.”

Alexandra Schuessler enjoys cooking, knitting waking her dog and hanging with kids.  She volunteers by giving blood, helping out with color guard and the Memory Project through the National Art Honor Society. She will be attending Rowan University to study Communications.

Schuessler talked about what she learned through her volunteer work with the Memory Project.  She said she learned how much of an impact a person can have through a drawing after seeing the response of students to their portraits.  “It was the best feeling.”

Schuessler said she would tell her 10-year-old self “it gets better."

Alyssa Stouch is a member of the Biomedical STEM Academy, National Honor Society, National World Language Honor Society, on the Principals Scholar Honor Roll every year with a GPA of 4.35, violinist in the Honors Philharmonic Orchestra, member of the swim team, life guards, founded the Ecologsy Club, volunteered as an assistant French Teacher at Helen Morgan, baby sits and teaches swimming.

Stouch will attend Lehigh University’s Honors IDEAS Program to study biomedical engineering and neuroscience.  She was asked how she would advise incoming freshmen to balance everything they have to do.  Stouch said, “Time management is important.  Work hard and play hard.  Put your school work first but don’t sacrifice what you like to do.”

Stouch said she would tell 10-year-old Alyssa “Definitely have more fun, live a little more, give yourself a little more to yourself.  I would have probably gotten the same results but with more fun and more sleep.”

Hannah Transier is a member of the National Honor Society and National World Language Honor Society and earned the Seal of Biliteracy in German, volunteered with Find the Courage, Pass it Along, Tilly’s Kids, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Liquid Church’s Outreach Program is headed to the University of Oklahoma in the fall. 

Transier was asked about the importance the holidays because so much of her volunteer work centered around the holidays.  She said it was “because it’s a special time to get together with families since some people don’t have that opportunity.  It’s important to give everyone that opportunity.”

High school senior Hannah said she would tell young Hannah to “enjoy every moment you have because as I’m getting ready to say goodbye I should have enjoyed every comment and every lunch, all the little interactions.  Appreciate that.”

The judges were Lisa Simko-Schumann, Lindsey McAloney and Cate Bottiglione.  Simko-Schumann or “Miss Lisa” owns and directs Dance Expressions Dance Arts in Hamburg where she is Artistic Director and Choreographer.   Miss Lisa is a dance, yoga and Zumba instructor. 

McAloney designs and directs theater in Passaic and Sussex County, is a theater teacher in Vernon and is a make-up artist. She is in her clinical internship towards a Masters in School Counseling from Seton Hall University.

Bottiglione is an actor and member of  SAG-AFTRA, performs and teaches theater in New York City, lives in Spanish Harlem with her nuclear physicist husband and encourages women to be “dynamic disrupters.”

All participants received gifts from the sponsors.  Miss Sparta also received an $800 scholarship as well as a gift from Born to Wod, Thirty One Gifts-Cynthia Dolinski and Spavia. The First Runner Up received a $200 scholarship, Second Runner-Up a $100 scholarship.

Other sponsors include Lake Mohawk Country Club, VFW, Perona Farms, J. Thomas Jewelers, Pattycakes, The Zugelder Family, Janine Cerra; Esq.

Dawn Corbo- Weichert Realty, Laddey, Clark & Ryan LLP, Reclaim Professional Organizing, LLC, Denny Kenvil – Coldwell Banker.

Elnasser and Foley said the look forward to next year and would love to have others join them on the organizing committee.