SPARTA, NJ – The senior department awards were announced on the scholarship and awards video last week.  Four years of diligent work in and out of the classroom is recognized during the Senior Academic Awards event.  Several of the recognition ceremonies were grouped all together this year, in a virtual ceremony.

More than 100 members of the Sparta High School Class of 220 received scholarships, awards, recognitions, cords, pins and certificates.

The virtual ceremony included statements by guidance counselors, teachers, supervisors, administrators and videos by submitted by outside organizations congratulating the recipients.

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The teachers in department and area of study selected an outstanding student. 

 The English department awards were presented by supervisor Mary Hassenplug.

Senior English Award went to David Rubin.  “A precocious lad, David was able to skip a grade not only due to his native talents but also due to an enviable discipline and devotion to any pursuit he undertakes, no matter how far afield that pursuit may be to his desired subject area,” Hassenplug said.  “You see, David is more of a science guy, but you wouldn't know it if you were to sit in on any one of his English classes.  He is always the first, if not the only, to participate, or to take the initiative in leading discussion, be it small group or class-wide, or to hazard a response when no one else will (oftentimes prompting the participation of others).  His writing is just as first rate, informed as it is by not only a clear, coherent thoroughness but also a distinctive and engaging style, another welcomed surprise from this science guy.  In short, David is the kind of student every teacher dreams of.”

The Creative Writing Award was given to Ande Wittenmeier.  “A precocious lad, David was able to skip a grade not only due to his native talents but also due to an enviable discipline and devotion to any pursuit he undertakes, no matter how far afield that pursuit may be to his desired subject area.  You see, David is more of a science guy, but you wouldn't know it if you were to sit in on any one of his English classes.  He is always the first, if not the only, to participate, or to take the initiative in leading discussion, be it small group or class-wide, or to hazard a response when no one else will (oftentimes prompting the participation of others).  His writing is just as first rate, informed as it is by not only a clear, coherent thoroughness but also a distinctive and engaging style, another welcomed surprise from this science guy.  In short, David is the kind of student every teacher dreams of,” Hassenplug said.

The Senior Math Award was presented to Cameron Ekeman by Mathematics teacher Sue Vnenchak. “Cameron Ekeman is someone who truly has a love and passion for math.  It has been a thrill over the past several years to see his face light up as we've uncovered new ideas and solved challenging problems.  He is insightful, curious, and has led us down some very interesting paths in class over the years.  Cameron is one of the most talented math students we have had pass through Sparta High School.  We hope that he will continue his mathematical journey, because we know he will accomplish big things.”

Karthik Selvaraj earned the Computer Science Award that was presented Margaret Incantalupo. “Karthik Selvaraj is an outstanding and talented Computer Science student. He has excelled in each computer science class including the AP Computer Science course. Karthik was a Teacher's Assistant for this year's AP Computer Science class and provided valuable assistance to the students. In addition, Karthik was the Head Programmer last year and a captain this year for the now famous, Team 5249Z. Due in large part to his contributions, 5249Z qualified for the Vex Worlds Robotics Competition in 2019 and 2020. Karthik has applied his computer science knowledge to many advanced individual projects. He is an independent learner and is a natural team leader. We wish him much success,” Incantalupo said.

Sarah Pisan Orelo gave the Senior Science Award to David Rubin. Pisan Orelo said, “The first thing that comes to mind when I think of David is his passion for learning. While he has demonstrated his academic successes in the formal class setting, what is most impressive is his ability and initiative to engage in professional academic conversations in his free time.  His innate curiosity has allowed him to not only be successful in the science classroom, but also has enabled his success beyond. His curiosity is contagious and inspires both his peers but more impressively those who have the privilege to have David as a student.”   

Ian Manske was awarded the Senior German Award by Christiane Wessels.

Alan Yeung was awarded the Senior French Award by Serge Wessels.

Alisa Williamson was awarded the Senior Spanish Award by Amanda Sachenski.

Shahed Al-Aydi was awarded the Senior Russian Award by Eric Hood. “Shahed has not only achieved the highest grades in Russian class for the past five years, she has taken part in all of the Russian activities. Shahed has been doing the Russian Olympiada since eighth grade. She consistently receives Gold Medals. Moreover, Shahed has written essays for the Russian Essay contest, also receiving high marks. She has also taken part in the Helen Morgan after school program, where she taught Russian to fourth and fifth graders. Shahed recently distinguished herself and showed her Russian skills by passing the Seal of Biliteracy. She has proven that she is fluent in Russian language and culture.  Shahed does everything available to Russian learners and does them all well. She is a very impressive young lady. Shahed has earned the Senior Russian Award due to her intelligence and diligence. We can all be proud of her.”

The Genocide Studies Award went to Elizabeth Holden.  William Brennan said, “Elizabeth demonstrated a consistently high level of personal engagement and academic excellence throughout the class. In particular she showed a superior degree of initiative, commitment and quality in her final project on the Armenian resistance to genocide, reflecting her own personal interest in the topic as a result of her family's background as survivors of the genocide. Elizabeth also took the initiative to participate in the World Jewish Congress's 2020 #WeRemember campaign to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Finally, Elizabeth's commitment to learning about the topic of genocide in history was demonstrated by the fact that she was among the first students to sign up for and successfully earn college credit for the class through the partnership between Sparta High School and Kean University.”

Josiah Sutton earned the AP Government Award.  The award was presented by Caitlin Jozefczy.

The AP European History Award was presented to Sean Hannon by Brian Brennan.

AP Psychology Award went to Todd Cummings.  “Todd has proven himself yearlong to be the model student.  He is always the first to respond to anything I may throw at the class, no matter how abstruse,” Scott Kercher said. “In fact, Todd's is at times the lone voice in the wilderness, hazarding a response when none of his fellow students dare.  Fortunately, his contributions have the effect of bringing others out of their shells, regularly prompting their participation; moreover, I can always count on Todd to lead discussions and provide direction during group assignments.  In short, Todd behaves in a way we all wish students would.  But beyond such exemplary conduct, however, Todd shows a decided penchant for the discipline itself.  The aforementioned contributions are consistently larded with a psychological precision and insight that never ceases to amaze.  You can almost see the light go on and the wheels turn as he wrestles with and makes his own every newly-introduced concept or theory.  The wonder--if not the joy--is palpable.”

Ande Wittenmeier was presented the Art Award by Christine Mase. “When I first met Ande, I saw she had a very special gift of visual storytelling. You see, she has something you can not teach and that is what is called the ‘it’ factor. Be it a sparkle or light, it  is rare to come across at a high school level.  When I think of Ande, words that fill my mind are humble, kind, funny, playful, honest, mature, talented, creative, driven, however it is her organic nature staying true to herself which stands out. She has an ability to relate ideas and feelings into expression paralleled with an impeccable work ethic. Ande is a leader in AP class who provides invaluable feedback through her own actions. She is the president of National Art Honor Society, placed 3rd in the NJ State Bar Courtroom Drawing Competition, was chosen to participate in the  6th Annual Highlands Juried Art Exhibit and her piece  "Childhood Memories" was selected  to be exhibited at NJ State Teen Arts in Ocean County. She committed to Syracuse University for animation and I am more than excited for her to go into the next phase of her creative journey. Ande, it has been an honor to be your high school art teacher. Congratulations for earning the Sparta High School Senior Art Award. You deserve it. I will miss you.”

“Congratulations to all of the Senior Scholarship and Award recipients,” Sparta High School Principal Ronnie Spring said. “This is truly a testament to all of their hard work and dedication throughout their high school careers.”

This is Part II of a three-part story about the Senior Scholarship and Awards video ceremony.

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