SPARTA, NJ-  Several parents accepted the invitation  to have coffee with the Sparta High School administrators last week.  New principal Ronnie Spring welcomed questions and the opportunity to introduce the leadership team in the school's media center.

Much of the team is new, sort of.  The principal joined the school in July.  Vice Principal Michael Lauricella moved to his office from having been the History and World Language Supervisor last December. 

Vice Principal Jamie Barker returned to Sparta High School after six months as the English Supervisor in Butler school district.  Barker told the parents she was “born and raised in Sparta,” had gone to Sparta High School as a student then taught English back at her alma mater.

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Danielle Colte said she came to Sparta from Monmouth County.  Colte has served at Sparta High School as a guidance counselor and recently the Student Assistance Counselor or SAC before moving into the position of Supervisor of College and Career Readiness in the newly structured guidance department.

The man with the most tenure at the coffee was Steve Stoner who has been Athletic Director for four years.

“I’m trying to get the word out about what we’re doing here, including using all social media platforms,” Spring said. “What we’re offering is amazing; the academics, the co-curriculars and athletics. If we don’t have it the kids start it.” Spring said he had challenged the freshmen to join at least one activity before the end of September. 

Spring said the academic offerings will be augmented by a Humanities Academy, joining the STEM Academy in providing a challenging option for Sparta students. Several parents said students were afraid to apply for the academy because of rumors about the challenging curriculum. 

Most of the parent’s questions had to do with academic issues.  They had questions about the STEM academy, course offerings, AP courses, the process of building their students’ schedules, teacher recommendations and parent waivers. 

Parents were concerned about the changes for the curriculum in English Language Arts.  They discussed what college admissions were looking for in a transcript; rigor versus GPA, diversity of courses and activities versus depth of commitment to a single passion as well as student self-advocacy versus parental support.

The discussion seemed to assuage concerns and explain options or at least point people in the right direction to find answers. 

Spring held an additional session in the evening.  He said this would be the first of several parent coffees.