Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Sparta High School Announces Top 10 Students in Senior Class

Written by: Elise Kerim 

As the 2017-2018 school year comes to its last stretch, final grade point averages have been calculated for the graduating class of 2018 and final class rankings have been released. With pride, the Sparta High School administration and Guidance department announced the Top 10 students in the senior class. These students have made an exemplary effort in their studies while balancing other activities and responsibilities. Being in the top ten is a big honor as a result of the hard work and determination that has been invested in their educations.

The ranking is as follows:
1. Alexandra Poret
2. Audrey Biss
3. Bader Al-Aydi
4. Melissa Nolan
5. Erin Walsh
6. Eileen Huhn
7. Victoria Heim
8. Paige Smith
9. Soumya Duggirala
10. Benjamin Dottinger

Speaking with Valedictorian Alex Poret on how she has been able to balance all of her responsibilities, she joked by saying, "not sleeping!"
"I've maintained an intense drive," Poret continued. "I find it helpful to beat procrastination by filling my time with binal relaxation and productivity. If I'm stressed to the point where I can't do work, I'll go for a run. I also skip around from assignments - when I can't focus on one, I'll move to something else that I have to do instead of stopping altogether and watching TV. I've been able to remove useless down time and put it into something productive."

Paige Smith, who will be attending Indiana University in the fall simply stated that she feels relieved.

Victoria Heim feels a sense of pride. "I'm happy for my other peers who ended up in the top ten. It was four years of hard work and studying!" Audrey Biss agreed with Heim, adding, "I'd say I'm thankful for the opportunities that I've had and that all of the hard work has paid off!"

Bader Al-Aydi, best known by his peers as Buddy, commented that, "Getting into the top ten took a lot of hard work and a lot of sacrifice, but all that hard work and sacrifice was well worth it in the end."

Similar to most of his peers, Ben Dottinger is feeling the stresses of the college admissions season. "It seems to me as though rank hasn't had much of a profound impact on my application," Dottinger started. "I know people of higher rank with seemingly better applications who have been waitlisted or denied for the same schools I've been accepted to. I'm waiting to hear back from most of my schools, but I will be attending somewhere to help me fulfill prerequisites for medical school."

Beyond the classroom, their peers know these students to be role models and friends as well as someone they can always approach for assistance as a resource before the teacher.
As students, it can be helpful to go to one of your peers when you have questions on an assignment or specific topic - especially when it's eleven in the evening and teachers won't be answering emails!

The Oracle and Sparta learning community would like to congratulate these students on their academic achievement and wish them the highest success in their future endeavors.

Credits: Sparta High School
SHS Top 10 Students, 2018. Left to right: Buddy Al-Aydi, Paige Smith, Erin Walsh, Victoria Heim, Audrey Biss, Alex Poret, Soumya Duggirala, Melissa Nolan, Eileen Huhn, Ben Dottinger

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Sparta High School Participates In National School Walkout

Written by: Taylor Muse

Today, March 14, 2018, the Sparta High School student body showed their respect for the seventeen lives that were lost in the Parkland, Florida shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. After discussion between the Board of Education, Student Council officers, Vice Principals and Principal Mrs. Ferraro, the administration allowed for students to participate in the national walkout. While not all of Sparta was willing to stand outside for 17 minutes, the majority of the students were passionate about what they were taking a stance on. No one should have been walking out solely to miss class - the purpose of the walkout was to remember peers who lost their lives due to the tragedy while in silence.

Chloe Bavaro, a sophomore attending Sparta High, quickly shut down the people who weren’t considerate of the others who had silenced their voices in solidarity. “We are here to honor 17 people who had lost their lives. If you don’t respect that, then please go inside,” she pronounced to a group of students who were speaking for a prolonged period of time and didn’t have the sufficient amount of education on the issue. The remaining minutes were observed in silence as students reflected on what they can do, as the future of this country, to create change.

Students walking in after the conclusion of the seventeen minutes.

Immediately following the walkout and into the student lunch period, there was a meeting between students, administrators, and police officers that took place in the auditorium. This allowed for students to ask as many questions as they wanted to the panel get some clarification on the new safety adjustments made to the school.  

Members of the safety panel whom answered questions from
concerned students.

Here is some of what went down:

Chloe Bavaro, Sophomore: “Regarding the drill in which we go down to the track (evacuation/bomb threat drill), what will happen in the case that there is an active shooter?“

Sparta PD: “We will sweep the area before sending any kids there. Each threat and action that happens may have to give us a different movement”.

Officer Hannam answers a question asked by a student.

“Are you thinking of putting metal detectors in all 42 doors at this school?”

Sparta PD, administration: "There is a Safety and Security program being held on Saturday, May 19 in which a list of safety measures will be discussed. This will discuss changing infrastructure, adding fences, etc. However, to have metal detectors everywhere will mean a patrol must be at every door. That’s something that will be discussed.”

Taylor Brady, Junior: “As far as noticing unusual behavior, if a student comes to administration about another student acting strange, would it be handled in any particular way?”

Sparta PD: “We believe that every piece of information should be attacked viciously.”

Emily Vreeland, Sophomore: “I have noticed that since the (Parkland, FL) shooting there has been a patrol car on campus. How will that benefit us? How do you feel that changes up the security?”

Administration (Mrs.Ferraro), Sparta PD: “We want to show any type of option or plan, we want to show that we are here for the students. As far as security goes, this is to stay on top of suspicious activity. However, this is not new after the Parkland shooting. Sparta PD comes in at least three times a week to the school and the patrol car has been coming to the school at some point during the week for the past four years."

Jade Criso, Sophomore: “Speaking from what I would do in the case of an active shooter being in the school... I can say that I would run to my nearest exit and go into the woods to be safe. I wouldn’t stay put in a classroom. If you have kids, what would you expect of them?”

Sparta PD: “I can respect that. We are changing the way that we do lockdowns. We are changing how certain rooms evacuate. If we knew that the shooter was somewhere in the hall, we would get everyone else out as soon as possible, however the kids in that hall would stay there safe and huddled. Keep in mind though, in that situation, if you were trying to flee the school, and I as an officer was coming in, you would most likely be put on the ground, held at gunpoint and handcuffed because we don’t know who you are. That would also take time away from the officers to actually do their job (in handcuffing the appropriate person). They are trying to catch their targets, unfortunately though, if someone got in their way it’s just taking that time away to make sure that that person isn’t the one they’re looking for. The safest bet is to stay in the school and stay covered.”

Elise Kerim, Senior: “If we were to evacuate in the case of a school shooter, where are we going? The shooter can hear us moving and is simply  able to run to the area where we are fleeing to - how would that work? How fast can we get emergency buses?” (This was in regards to the administration proposing a grid system. With this system, when a section, or “grid” of the building is clear, students and teachers that are in classrooms of the given area are able to evacuate the building.)

Sparta PD: “Stay in the area that we clear out for your safety. You will not be released until the shooter, or whatever the scenario may be, is taken under control. We have access to all the buses available at the time. Most of the time, since we all have our phones, mom and dad come rushing through. We will move you to a different, safe location. Of course, we don’t want everyone in a chaotic scene, our response time will be extremely fast - within a minute. It will all be under control.”

Sawsan Srour, Freshman: “First, thank you for letting us participate in this walkout. (The federal government) is in debate of teachers with firearms. How do you feel?”

Administration: “I personally do not endorse having teachers with firearms. Teachers have a job to do. That’s to teach and instruct. They aren’t experts on fire arms, and taking a course to train still won’t make them experts. Let the officers handle it. Teachers need to be channeling and huddling students at that point.”

Sarah Dioneda, Junior: “What do you plan on doing to change the future of our safety drills and our new laws? Are we the students supposed to just wait until we can vote?”

Sparta PD, administration: “We are working on safety and security. We are hoping to expand security around campus. We can vote, but the student voice has proven to be stronger than those of us who have been voting for many years. The message from the student is very powerful. We have been trying to change for a long time and we haven’t been able to do so. If every eighteen year old who can vote does, we can change any law. We can’t share what we would do personally (when voting). We need to educate ourselves about the laws. That’s the best we can do.”

Principal Mrs. Ferraro addresses a student

Kevin Moran, Sophomore: “Can we participate in the walkout April 20th all day?”

Mrs. Ferraro: “It will be counted as an absence. There are many safety concerns when it comes to this because technically it’s a walk. Students would be walking to the police department, municipal building, etc. Therefore, once off campus students will be cutting because it’s not encouraged due to the safety issue. It will have to be discussed.”

Next school year, outsiders will only be allowed to enter the building if they have made an appointment. Additionally, all schools in the Sparta Township Public School system will be implementing the "lobby guard" system, which requires visitors to get their picture taken and scan their licenses before entering the building - any red flags that come up will be subject to investigation and denied entry to the building.

 Spartans, there you have it. Today’s walkout was successful. In your view, were your questions answered? Any more questions you want answered? If so, leave your comments in this blog post and/or email administration regarding your concerns and get your answers. We want you to feel safe. Thank you to all who participated and thanks to administration for allowing this to all go down with no penalty.

Be the change you want to see.

Students gather for the panel to have their voices heard.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Why Media Representation Is So Important

Written by: Kanita Tariq

With Black Panther, the latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, breaking box office records across the nation, it’s important to think of why this particular stand-alone superhero film was such a phenomenon. Since its release on February 16th caused a frenzy with fans of the Marvel Universe and otherwise, it has become vital to address the importance of representation in the media to viewing audiences.

Hollywood has remained a racial battleground since its existence - with a slight yet crucial increase in diversity in the 2017 Oscar nominees and winners.

So why is Black Panther introducing such a mania amongst audiences- more so than any other superhero film released to date? How is it single-handedly initiating cultural conversations between people of all ages?

The answer is simple but complex. Black Panther’s success should not be a surprise. With minority-led film ideas often left on the back-burner, many audiences yearn for some form of representation. When millions of people can see themselves mirrored on the big screen with a variety of roles to identify with, films are bound to have such a profound impact.

With Black Panther’s positive depiction of life on the African continent, black heroes and villains, and well-executed portrayal of human complexity, its success is well-earned, and a strong reminder that everyone’s story deserves to be told.

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Curtain Closes for Mary Poppins the Musical

Written by: Lauren Groff

The lights are down, the curtain is closed, and Sparta High School's production of Mary Poppins is finished. The dazzling production filled with singing, dancing - and yes, even flying - appeared “practically perfect” on stage, but not without the help of many people behind the scenes. Aside from just the actors and actresses on stage, multiple stage crew members and volunteers gave their time to help create the set, decorate the auditorium, control the lighting, organize the props, sell and bake concessions, and so much more.

The musical, which was set to showcase March 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, landed right in the middle of the recent nor'easter snow storm that brought cold temperatures and snow barreling towards the east coast. However, the cast and crew did not let a little difficult weather get in the way. The Friday March 2nd show was promptly rescheduled for Sunday March 4, which drew many young children and their families into the packed SHS auditorium. All three performances drew exceptionally large crowds, and lit up the faces of audience members of all ages. Erin Vreeland, an SHS senior who portrayed the role of the Banks family house maid Mrs. Brill, spoke fondly of the experience. “Having Mary Poppins be my fourth and last musical at Sparta was the best experience of my high school career. This year's show was one to never forget and I`m so thankful for every second of it!”

Left to right: Claire Riley as George Banks, Sara Vincelette as Winifred Banks,
Steven Sullivan as Michael Banks, Lauren Groff as Jane Banks 

Featured dancers twirl away. Left to right: Esha Iyer, Sofia Cook, Noelle Valario

Mary Poppins (Nina Strowe) and Mrs. Corry (Tessa Gori) immerse the Banks children
into the magic of the Talking Shop

Burt (Henry Silberstein) flies high above rooftops with chimney sweeps below.

Mary Poppins may have left the SHS stage, but the happiness it brought to hundreds still remains. With every year comes a new musical, but this year's production was certainly one not to be forgotten.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Sparta DECA Succeeds in Atlantic City, Moves to Nationals

Written by: Elise Kerim 

Sparta DECA traveled to Atlantic City to attend the DECA State Development Career Conference on Tuesday, February 27th and returned home on Thursday, March 1st

DECA is an extra-curricular activity for marketing students. At the competitions, they are able to pitch ideas in the categories of hospitality and tourism, finance, marketing and communications, and business management.

On Tuesday night, those who wrote 30-page business and community service proposals provided a presentation to a judge about the project they had initiated and executed. The following day, finalist rounds took place. 

After presentations had wrapped, the four thousand state participants attended the DECA Opening Ceremony. Sparta took part in New Jersey DECA’s State Community Service Project, “Bucks for Books”, donating money from their infamous Krispy Kreme fundraiser and received formal recognition on stage.

Wednesday was filled with competitive events. It closely mimicked any other school day, with students waking up as early as 6:30am as nerves settled in hopes of doing their best in their events. Students in individual role-play events had to compete twice ; team role- play events had one round. The top eight in each category were called back to take part in another role-play scenario as part of finalist rounds. 

Finalist rounds for thirty page papers also took place on Wednesday. Finalist rounds for all competitive events wrapped around 7pm, with the DECA Mini-Awards session taking place at 8pm. The mini-awards recognized students who ranked high in their area test or performed well on one of their individual role plays. 

Role play scores and the score received on the area tests are averaged to determine placement and eligibility for DECA Nationals.

Thursday morning was the Grand Awards Ceremony, which determined overall State winners that would be heading to the International Career Development Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The Sparta community was extremely passionate about their hard work and the work of their peers, being one of the loudest cheering sections overall. The winners that will be jetting off to Georgia in late April are as follows:

1st place, Entrepreneurship Promotion Project
  • Danielle Francescutto
  • Kate Nash
  • Grace Sander
    Francescutto, Nash, and Sander taught middle school students who partake in the TREP$ program all of the aspects on how to efficiently become an entrepreneur in modern day, maximizing modern marketing and business techniques.

    2nd place, Quick Serve Restaurant Management
Daniel Baker

2nd place, Human Resource Management
Victoria Heim

2nd place, Entrepreneurship Innovation Plan
John “JD” Macones
Macones introduced audible teddy bears for children fighting cancer to ensure they hear encouraging words from their loved ones during their battle.

3rd place, Financial Literacy Promotion Plan
  • Hannah Fagersten
  • Shelby Kapp
  • Elise Kerim
    The team of Fagersten, Kapp, and Kerim hosted an interactive and educational financial aid class to assist students going through the tedious financial aid process.

    5th place, Sports and Entertainment Promotion Plan
  • V aleria Molina
  • Erica Ambrosino
  • Rebecca Miller
    Together, Molina, Ambrosino, and Miller proposed a revival of singing competition show American Idol by generating excitement for future seasons while partnering up with charities

    6th place, International Business Plan
  • Isabella Horowitz
  • Caitlin Russo
  • Esha Iyer
    The sophomore team pitched a prospective marketing and business plan of opening a Disney World park in Dubai. 
  • 6th place, Professional Selling
    Olivia Navarro
Students who competed in Finalist rounds are as follows:

Creative Marketing Project
  • Bayleigh Takacs
  • Kelli Vogel
    Lifelong sports players themselves, Takacs and Vogel divulged into the decline of youth sports in Sparta Township and proposed their solution.

    Community Service Project
  • Victoria Heim
  • Kaitlyn Nyhan
    Nyhan and Heim worked with Sparta High School’s Special Education department to plan a dance for the students.

    Public Relations Project
Sylvia Sochacki

Sochacki hosted a literature night for children in the Sparta Elementary schools. Along with reading and coloring, children got to enjoy the star lab.

Financial Consulting
Josh Williams

Franchise Business Plan
Blake Aschenbach

Hospitality and Tourism Research Project
  • Daniel Baker
  • Stelios Kroudis
    Baker and Kroudis created a plan to increase customer satisfaction in local restaurant, Il Porto. 

    Click here to view photos.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

SHS Musical and National Honor Society Host Senior Dinner

Written by: Lauren Groff 

   On Tuesday night, the auditorium of Sparta High School welcomed senior citizens in the area for the first official performance of Mary Poppins the Musical. After rehearsing since early December, the show commenced for a special opening night before the show began on Thursday night for all to see. The Sparta's National Honor Society Chapter served a complimentary dinner for the senior citizen audience. Led by NHS advisor and English teacher Danielle Kopp, the National Honor Society volunteers served a course of turkey, rolls, mashed potatoes, said, and warm apple cobbler desert catered by Sodexo. "The National Honor Society students serve the dinner seniors get to enjoy it for free and it's all paid for by the musical," Kopp said. "We raffled off jars of candy that I personalized with the Mary Poppins logo. The senior citizens loved it!"
   This was not the first year that the senior citizens were invited to enjoy the talents of Sparta High School. "It's a SHS tradition that the seniors have grown to love and look forward to every year and we love being able to give them that experience," Kopp continued, "We had 163 people we served dinner to and the same people come back every year...they just love it!"
   With combined efforts of the cast of the musical as well as the members of National Honor Society, local senior citizens were able to enjoy a wonderful night. Whether you're five or ninety-five, Mary Poppins is a great story for all ages!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Sparta DECA Sends 83 to State Conference

Written by: Elise Kerim

Sparta's DECA chapter is in competition mode. The group attended the regional competition at Ramapo College on Wednesday, January 4th. Although the temperatures were blistering and navigating the hilly college campus stood up to DECA members' business apparel, Sparta showed up ready to thrive and show DECA judges how prepared they were and how much marketing knowledge they had acquired.

Students are given a role play situation in which they are to assume the role of a business professional and pitch their idea or solution to the judge. Students may perform individually or with a partner. Participants sign up for a category in advance, however do not know their role play situation until they sit in the preparation room and have 15 minutes to prepare an agenda for them to pitch during their 10 minutes with the judge.

Whether it was their first or fourth year enrolled in marketing, Sparta did exceedingly well at the competition. The top thirteen in each category from the region are eligible to move on to the State Development Career Conference in Atlantic City at the end of February.

The Spartans who will be heading to Atlantic City on February 27th are as follows.

Apparel & Accessories Marketing Series
- Rachel Nick, 7th place
- Stelios Kroudis, 9th place

Sports & Entertainment Marketing Series
- Elise Kerim, 1st place
- Logan Daghlian, 6th place

Sports & Entertinament Marketing Management Team Decision Making
- Nick Elnasser & Payton Martini, 2nd place

Automotive Services Marketing Series
- Bayleigh Takacs, 7th place
- Gianna Bednarczyk, 9th place
- Christopher Smith, 10th place

Buying and Merchandising Management Team Decision Making
- Mike Nauta & Cameron Riley, 5th place

Entrepreneurship Series
- Kate Fontes, 9th place
- Tucker Hastings, 12th place

Entrepreneurship Team Decision Making
- Sergei O'Sullivan & Tyler Shaw, 2nd place
- Justin Melick & Adrian Ukaj, 5th place
- Isabella Horowitz & Caitlin Russo, 7th place

Financial Consulting Event
- Josh Williams, 2nd place

Food Marketing Series
- Kate Nash, 6th place

Hospitality and Tourism Professional Selling
- Julia Loewen, 3rd place
- Matthew Mcandris, 4th place
- Haley Singer, 7th place
- Carlie Wilson, 8th place
- Esha Iyer, 11th place

Hospitality Services Management Team Decision Making
- Nick Furgeson & Audrey Krajicek, 3rd place
- Savannah Rode & Jessica Schoenfeld, 5th place
- Kayla Collinson & Zsofia Szilagyi, 7th place

Professional Selling
- Olivia Navarro, 1st place
- Sylvia Sochacki, 2nd place
- Turner Tullis, 8th place
- Brooke Elliot, 10th place

Quick Serve Restaurant Management Series
- Daniel Baker, 1st place
- Hannah Fagersten, 3rd place

Hotel and Lodging Management
- Michaela Bleakely, 3rd place
- Jenson Scott, 9th place

Business Law and Ethics Team Decision Making
- Hailey Mead & Jillian Van Fleet, 4th place

Business Services Marketing Series
- Ben McDonald, 2nd place
- Henry Flint, 8th place
- Jesse West, 13th place

Human Resources Management Series
- Billy Stoddard, 2nd place
- Victoria Heim, 7th place

Marketing Communications
- Thomas Ferrara, 1st place
- Grace Sander, 6th place
- Heather DiPiano, 9th place

Principles of Business Management & Administration
- John Schon, 11th place

Principles of Finance
- Ryan Cilli, 10th place
- Christopher Pierson, 12th place

Principles of Hospitality and Tourism
- Brenna Hamann, 10th place

Principles of Marketing:
- Yasmeen Caswell, 2nd place
- Nikki Dawar, 11th place

Retail Merchandising
- April Vannieuwland, 1st place
- Shelby Kapp, 4th place
- Paige Smith, 8th place
- Julia Dykstra, 12th place
- Cecelia Canfield, 13th place