Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Varsity Softball Wraps Up Great Season - Great Job, Ladies!

Written by: Fiona Sipple 

The ladies of the Sparta High School Varsity Softball team are superb, amazing, legends... and a myriad of other words that simply do not do them justice. Led by Coach Poots, the ladies played game after game with only one loss and too many wins to count. They have gone through the 2018 season like the champs that they are, making it to the Sectional Finals.

For many of the members on the team the loss against Indian Hills may seem distressing, but without a shadow of doubt, the amount of wins and losses mean nothing without heart - and the ladies have an abundant amount of spirit and drive. Watching them play together on the field is nothing short of extraordinary, and the ladies have many accomplishments this year to be proud of. In every, hit, bunt, catch, and pitch, the passion the girls have when they are playing is phenomenal. No matter the score, they kept playing harder because the desire to always to better kept them going.

Congratulations to three seniors who are going on to play in college:

- Jessica Esso, incoming catcher and outfielder for Bloomsburg University
- Erin Scott, incoming right fielder for Lafayette College
- Carolyn Jacobs, incoming first baser for New Jersey City University

A final congratulations to all the ladies on the Varsity Softball team. All the ladies played wonderfully this season, great job!

- Isabella DeFilippis
- Tatiana Esteva-Ingram
- Justyne D'Ascoli
- Paige Smith (Captain)
- Stephanie Villar
- Erin Scott (Captain)
- Kate Esso
- Carolyn Jacobs
- Jessica Esso
- Olivia Bouma-Hannam
- Delaney Forzaiti
- Emily Jacobs

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Sparta High School Celebrates Underclassmen Achievement 2018

Written by: Elise Kerim

Parents, students, teachers, and administrators all gathered in Sparta High School's Media Resource Center to recognize the academic and service achievements earned by various freshman, sophomores, and juniors.

Principal Mrs. Ferraro opened the ceremony, welcoming the parents and issuing one large congratulations to all the students, while also acknowledging the staff that continually inspire and motivate the students, stating that, "teachers in the Sparta school district are some of the best of the best in the state."

The ceremony recognizes achievement in an academic subject, various departments, leadership and citizen contributions. Department supervisors delivered the awards to each grade level student, reading accolades written by their respective teachers.

The awards are as follows.

Director of Guidance, Ms. Konwiser, delivered the first ever Therapy Dog Award. This award is a result of the therapy program at both Sparta High School and Sparta Middle School, and goes to a student who is diligent in caring for and being supporting of SHS therapy dogs, Melvin and Stanley. The student who was consistent in helping the therapy program thrive was freshman Rocco Cortese. According to Konwiser, Rocco first met Melvin at the middle school and wanted to know everything about him. As a freshman, Rocco comes to the guidance office every day and even knows the dogs schedules. "No matter your mood, you always have the ability to be nice to a dog," Konwiser concluded.

English Department Awards were delivered by English Supervisor Ms. Hassenplug.

Freshman Sophie Regeimbal has a "devotion to academia that is top notch. Her participation in classroom discussion elevates the classroom setting." 

Kanita Tariq earned the 10th grade English award. A member of The Oracle, Kanita will take over as Editor-in-Chief next year. Her teacher Mrs. Kopp said that she "puts her full effort and sophistication into her work."

With "passion and commitment to the English language," Kasey Senatore earned the award for junior English Student of the Year. Hassenplug continued, "She has honed in on voice and style....creating compelling and inspiring perspectives on social issues that are important to her."

Math Department Students of the Year
Ninth grade student Emily Fitzgerald "sets goals for herself and persists in accomplishing her goals," according to her math teacher, Ms. Vybihal.

Ms. Vnenchak says that sophomore Cameron Ekeman is "one of the strongest math students to come through Sparta High School in years, and he truly enjoys mathematics."
Known by her teacher Mr. Bayliss as an "all around fantastic student,"

Caroline Kepler received the 11th grade Mathematics award, continuing that he "cannot say enough about what a pleasure it is to have [Kepler] in class."
Computer Science Students of the Year 
As a freshman, Liam Rust has a "great interest in computer science and easily grasps abstract concepts." Brandon Rabbitt, 10th grade student, learned the "theory of computer science quickly and experiences with the science of new code, solving problems in new and creative ways." Junior James Wang is an outstanding computer science student.

Science Department Students of the Year, Supervisor: Ms. Wilson
Excelling in environmental science this year, freshman Kaela Burke "displays remarkable scientific habits of mind."

David Rubin is described by his teacher as a "sponge." His teacher says that the sophomore has an "incredible ability to absorb all information in class and apply it."

Andrew (AJ) Rudolph, junior, is "respectful, curious, inquisitive, and helpful. He is a science scholar who tries to get a complete understanding [of scientific concepts] rather than just memorizing the material."

Mr. Lauricella Delivered the Social Studies Student of the Year Awards
According to Ms. Hobby-Psensky ("HP") and Mr. Merrill, Taige Kellenberger transitioned from 8th grade to freshman year extremely well, and she "worked harder than anyone else and is the most improved student."

Autumn Nady is a "tireless worker who has performed at the highest level," continuing that the 10th grade student works hard no matter the assignment.

11th grader Robert Chen is a "superb student and strives for the best." He is "one of the best students [Mr. Reinstein] has ever had, and is destined for greatness."

 World Languages Students of the Year 
With a 98.1% average in Spanish, Julia McEllen, freshman, is a "team player who helps her other classmates. She has a solid foundation in the target language."

Brett DiBlasio, sophomore, has a "natural aptitude for learning German with an 'A' average for the year. He is attentive and has served as a role model."

Marco Lavagnino, known as Andre, takes multiple languages at Sparta High. He is currently enrolled in Honors German 4 and French 5 AP, and the junior is adding Spanish to his schedule in his senior year schedule. Andre is a member of German World Language National Honor Society, and Vice President of French World Language National Honor Society. Mr and Mrs Wessels state that Andrew is a "true global citizen."

Business and Marketing Students of the Year, Delivered by Mr. Stoner
Kayla Collinson, 9th grade, made an "immediate impact on the marketing classroom, having a great work ethnic. She has improved her public speaking skills and gives excellent presentations in class. She was one of the few students who attended the DECA State Conference, competing in the Hospitality Services Team Event."

Mr. Mefford nominates the sophomore "fearsome threesome" team of Isabella Horowitz, Esha Iyer, and Caitlin Russo for Students of the Year. The trio qualified for DECA Nationals in Atlanta, Georgia this year and always come to marketing class with smiles on their faces. The girls are smart and passionate.

Junior Valeria Molina "always has a smile on her face. It was her first year in DECA, and she made it all the way to Nationals. She is involved with marketing outside of school, as a part of the NYU music industry program, an escort at New York Fashion Week, and serves as an Official Chief Marketing Officer for an outside program."

Freshman Music Students of the Year
Orchestra - Jenna Bargfrede, a "very talented violinist is a wonderful leader in freshman orchestra." Jenna is also a member of Chamber Music Club and Strings Club.
Chorus - Scott Riley is a member of Concert Choir, Men's Choir, Shacapella, Freshman Select, and was a part of the Spring Musical. The music department looks forward to seeing his accomplishments in the future.
Band - Thomas Schwarzrock is "advanced beyond his years and has the ability to make All-State Bands in the future."

Sophomore Music Students of the Year
Orchesta - Cameron Ekeman is dedicated to playing.
Chorus - Lorenzo Redina, who is also an active member in the band.
Band - Emily Yarnall has "worked so hard this year and taken on challenges that have made her a better player."

Junior Music Students of the Year 
Orchestra - Derek Campbell is a talented musician. He plays the violin and guitar extremely well, and is dedicated to the Strings Club.
Chorus - Stephanie Downes is an active member in all choirs.
Band - Elizabeth Utkins is a "Drum Major in the SHS Marching Band an in general, a leader. We are looking forward to her college auditions and future as a music educator."

Art Department Students of the Year, Presented by Mr. Schels 
Vivien Talon is a freshman this year, and she is talented and strives to produce her best work. Ms. Cutillo describes her as a risk taker who is willing to learn from her mistakes and explore new ideas." Vivien is a positive influence in the classroom who encourages others.

Paul Shumlas, grade 10, has an "affinity for photography that connects him to every project." Paul likes action and colorful imagery. His image was displayed at Sussex County Community College, and he won a place to compete at the state level Teen Arts Festival. Describing the junior student as "extremely talented,"

Kasey Senatore received the art department award. In her art, Senatore is an "outspoken and creative force who doesn't hesitate to make art she cares about. Art is about personal expression, and Kasey is never afraid to use art as a vehicle to voice her opinion."

Technology Career and Consumer Science 
In culinary arts, Luke Kopco exemplifies enthusiasm and respect in the classroom. The freshman is always polite and willing to assist with others, and "works well with his other kitchen chefs."

For her work in video production, sophomore Natalia Brownstein has a "keen visual eye" and is a creative editor on her individual and group projects.

Michael Ryan was nominated by Mr. Trizcinski, as the junior has a "tremendous work ethic which sets him apart from other students," performing at a high level.

Physical Education Students of the Year
Freshman Zoe Criezis was nominated by Mrs. Reese, stating that Zoe, "never failed to impress me. She strives to perform well as a well-disciplined person. She is quiet, polite, sincere, cooperative, and always willing to help."

Olivia Bouma-Hannam was the nominee for grade 10, with an impressive mile time and one of the highest pacer test scores.

Mr. Trappe selected William "Billy" Stoddard, as only one name immediately came to Mr. Trappe's mind when asked to select a student. Billy is a good athlete who leads by example in class, having a great relationship with each student in the class.

Health Students of the Year
Kelly Zukowski was engaged in the subject matter, and earned the highest average in freshman health with an average grade of a 98.

With a perfect score on the state driving exam, Rachel Sosik is the Drivers Education Student of the Year, demonstrating exemplary effort.

Caroline Kepler was chosen by Ms. D'Amelio amongst all the junior students, with D'Amelio stating that Caroline "is at the top tier of performance, going above and beyond with her work ethic as a student. She is always smiling, and without hesitation she always says 'yes' when asked to perform a task. Her mannerism sets her up to the next highest bar of student behavior."

Guidance Department Students of the Year, led by Ms. Konwiser
As the guidance counselor for all freshman, Mr. Librizzi chose Rachel Young. She is clearly dedicated to her education, has perfect attendance, maintains an A+ average in a rigorous curriculum, and Librizzi is sure she will continue to be successful in her remaining three years.

Lauren Groff was selected as the sophomore recipient. Her guidance counselor Mrs. Valleau states that Lauren is a "dynamic young woman." She is kind and respectful, and has worked closely with Mrs. Valleau for applications for summer programs.

Mrs. Knabb announced the junior award winner, Melissa LaFountain. Melissa is "extremely conscientious, takes on rigorous coursework, works hard, and as a result, has fantastic grades. She is a part of the yearbook staff and is considering a career in journalism. Melissa is very strong and caring."

The Princetoon Book Award was given to Simon Levien. The award is presented by the Princeton University Alumni Association, and is given to a junior who shows outstanding efforts in academics and the humanities, as well as ranking in the top five percent of their class. Simon embodies all of that, while having his pieces published in the New York Times and was a finalist for the NJ Scholars Program.

The Dwight D. Eisenhower Leadership Award goes to high school juniors in New Jersey who demonstrate outstanding academia, athletic achievement, show good citizenship and leadership. William "Billy" Stoddard was this years recipient. Stoddard will receive a letter of recognition and a plaque, him and his family will be invited to West Point for a day of leadership awards recognition. Billy has strong core values, holds a 4.4 GPA, is a member of the varsity basketball team, DECA, and a volunteer for the Special Olympics team. The school community is "continually impressed by his character and ability to grow."

The Hugh O' Brien Leadership Award goes to an outstanding sophomore who will go on to represent the school at the state seminar. Kelsi Loewen is that student, involved in the STEM program with high academic achievement. Kelsi has strong leadership, is a role model to her peers, and is known for her kindness.

The George Washington University Alumni Book Award goes to a student who is a leader, has integrity, and demonstrated academic strength. Sophie Venus is hardworking, and "learns for the sake of learning - not just for the GPA." Sophie hopes to study international relations in the Washington, D.C. area.

Rochester Computing Medal Award recognizes high school juniors who are active and involved members in school who also demonstrate an interest in computing. This years award goes to Steven Zukowski, who is an "academic proust in computer programming. He has a sincere desire in all areas of academics."

The Rochester Institute of Technology Innovation and Creativity award goes to students who perform well academically, are active in the school community, and have shown achievement in creativity or innovation.
Ashley Lasko is intelligent and has a creative desire to learn as much as she can about science. She is a member of National Honor Society, World Language National Honor Society, Women in Science, Chemistry Olympics, and Science League. Ashley is an "explorer who continually seeks out knowledge." The second winner of this award is Derek Campbell. There is "no dount that he will make a great contribution to this world." Derek is detail oriented, a member of National Honor Society and World Language National Honor Society. He is musically inclined, a part of Student Council, and his citizenship to the community is "appreciated and recognized."

The University of Rochester Roger Douglas and Susan B. Anthony Award goes to social leaders who are understanding of pressing issues and dedicated to creating change. Derek Campbell is this years recipient.

The University of Rochester's George Eastman Young Leaders Award goes to a student who has a strong sense of leadership and has high grades in challenging courses. A well respected student with a 4.9 GPA in five Advanced Placement and two honors courses, Joshua Williams was given this honor.

The University of Rochester's Xerox Award for Innovation and Information goes to James Wang, who excels in math and science. With a 5.0 GPA, James takes four Advanced Placement courses and two honors. James is "inspired by problem solving and looks to continue his studies in computer programming."

The University of Rochester Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award goes to a junior who has high PSAT and SAT scores and is in rigorous science courses. Sarah West is in the top 5% of her class and a leader in the STEM academy. She is a part of the yearbook staff and an accomplished musician. Sarah hopes to pursue her passions in biomedical science.

Sarah West also earned the Rensselar Medal. The medal goes to a student who excels in math and science and is in the top ten percentile of their class.

American Legion Boys and Girls State goes to the top high school juniors in New Jersey. They will attend Boys/Girls State where they will run and govern a mythical 51st state to deal with issues that they would see in government.
NJ Boys State attendees are Andrew Rudolph and Ian Thomson. Andrew is "enthusiastic and dedicated and embodies the meaning of leadership." Ian has a passion for government and has a "thirst for knowledge." Ian hopes to study criminology and looks to attend a naval ROTC program.
Carly Piniaha will be attending Girl State. Carly is a leader in the classroom, maintaining high grades and helping out others. Carly is "motivated and has immersed herself in the volunteer experience. She has the ability to inspire greatness in others, and her success will truly continue."

The National Merit Scholarship Qualifiers are students who score the highest among 50,00 test takers. The Sparta High recipients are Simon Levien, James Wang, Owen Welsh, Sarah West, Josh Williams, and Julia Young.

The Scholar Athlete Award goes to a junior who excels in academics and athletics. Mr. Stoner states that when picking a student, they look at the top 25 students in the class and compare it to athletics. It is not a matter of achievement and ranking, but the fact that the student does play a sport and maintains good grades. This years scholar athlete is Beck Gozdenovich. His basketball coach Mr. Brennan says that Beck is "one of the more unheralded athletes at Sparta. He competes tirelessly on the court and in the field for the benefit of his teammates."

Mrs. Ferraro took the floor to announce that this years Principals Award went to Caroline Kepler. Caroline is a top academic student in school and is extremely well rounded. She is part of the STEM program, has been induced into multiple honor societies, is a member of Science League, Key Club, and numerous other clubs as well as being a three sport athlete. "If you ask anyone in the school," Ferraro stated, "they will tell you that Caroline is kind. She is very liked by her fellow students and loved by coaches and teachers."

Before the group socialized with breakfast, Mrs. Ferraro delivered closing remarks, emphasizing the kindness of the students in the room.

Please click here for pictures of the event.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

9-1-1, S-H-S!

Written by: Kanita Tariq 

   For students with an interest in and passion for the medical field or for those who are simply looking to improve their people skills, volunteering with Sparta's Ambulance Squad has proven to be an undeniably impactful experience. Current volunteers from Sparta High School - Maddie Arcuri, Kirsten Scott, Amanda Sansone, Julianna Riehl, William Nichols, Henry Flint, Erin Finnegan, and Nadir Hassan - can attest to just that.

   Regular duties of an EMT include stocking the ambulance, comforting patients and recording vitals like temperature and blood pressure. What a student EMT can and cannot do depends on their age and level of experience. Newcomers start by observing and learning how to handle different types of situations before moving on to doing assessments with the oversight of a certified EMT. Potential EMTs hear lectures and practice on mannequins before joining the team, and must be supervised by an experienced colleague before working on their own.

   Although working in the Ambulance Squad is desirable amongst students, all volunteers can confirm that the process is no easy job  - EMT school was a challenge and with shifts ranging anywhere from four to twelve hours, time management is a key for a healthy work experience. Despite the struggle, students love it and many people wish they had signed up sooner.

   The EMT experience can be life-changing. Kirsten managed to bring back a man's pulse in the back of an ambulance. Although he eventually passed away a few weeks later, thanks to Kirsten, he gained a few more moments with his family.

   Kirsten's experience taught her about the bigger picture, reinforcing the idea that grades are not always as important as teenagers these days sometimes feel they are.

  Julianna, an aspiring nurse, believes that she will have a step up when she begins studies in college as she has learned how to appropriately handle patients and tackle certain scenarios. She feels that working as an EMT has not only made her more confident as a person but also gave her a place to feel comfortable - "I'm not really sporty, I'm not really super smart... so in that aspect, EMS really helped me find my place." Gaining direct advice from EMTs was immensely helpful. Besides the medical experience, being a student EMT teaches the students time management, with school, extracurriculars, EMT school and a possible job. "If you really love something, you'll make time for all of it," stated Maddie Arcuri.

  All in all, each and every volunteer can vouch for the immense impact working as an EMT has. They wholeheartedly encourage fellow students to join up as soon as they can to make a difference in our community.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Sparta Seniors Host 9th Annual SafeStock

Written by: Elise Kerim 

   In an effort to promote positive school culture, Sparta High School hosted SafeStock, an annual outdoor event to allow for students to unwind and relax. SafeStock took place just as Advanced Placement exams were completed on the Friday before Memorial Day, the unofficial start to summer.

   Seniors from the extracurricular club Find The Courage host SafeStock each year, with the assistance of advisor Ms. Lynn D'Amelio. Find The Courage is an anti-bullying club for seniors who have proven themselves as leaders in the school community. Students attended SafeStock during their gym periods.

   There were events for every type of student, ranging from sole relaxation to competitive events. Evan Roque, Alex Hofgesang, and Thomas Blake played music outdoors all day, showcasting their musical talent with Roque on vocals, Hofgesang and Blake playing guitar.

   Students were able to play volleyball, spike ball, Bean Bag Buckets, parachute, and tennis. There was a station set up with tents and yoga mats for students who wanted to simply relax. Additionally, there was a dunk tank and a makeshift slip and slide set up to combat the heat. Members of both the Sparta and NJ State Police Department donated their time and set up fatal vision goggles. At one station, students sixteen and older could attempt to drive a golf cart with the goggles on, and another trying to walk in a straight line and perform a variety of field tests.

   There was a friendly competition to see who could hit the longest drive in golf. Senior James Lynch swung the furthest and as a result received a Dunkin' Donuts gift card.

   Sparta High School's SRO and SAC coordinated for bagels to be offered to students during the morning periods and burgers and hot dogs were grilled by generous members of the Sparta VFW in the afternoon.

Special thanks to:
- Volunteers from the Sparta VFW for giving their time and providing food
- Stop and Shop for their donation of $1,000 worth of water
- Adam's Bagels (Jefferson, NJ)
- La Vanta Bagel
- Sparta Fraternal Order of Police for their time
- Members of NJ State Police for their time and assistance in setup

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Sparta High School Senior Crowned Miss Sparta 2018

Written by: Elise Kerim

The Miss Sparta Pageant took place on Tuesday, May 22nd at the Sparta VFW and a new teen was crowned.

Hannah Fagersten, senior, took the title based on her outstanding leadership ability and service to the community. Fagersten is the President of Sparta DECA, attended New Jersey Girls State, is an avid volunteer with Girls on the Run, and a member of the National Honors Society. She will go on to attend Pennsylvania State University in the fall to study marketing.

Fagersten stated, "I am really excited to have the opportunity to represent my hometown in the next year," when asked what the title means to her.

Miss Sparta is crowned based on the personal resume of the girl, two rounds of personal interviews with judges, and the ability to answer questions during the event based on presentation and content.

Hannah Fagersten, Miss Sparta 2018. Credits: Provided

Additionally, Shelby Kapp and Samantha Russo, both SHS Seniors, participated in the event and were runner-ups.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Sparta High School Hosts Annual Blood Drive

Written by: Kanita Tariq 

Sparta High School students had the opportunity to donate blood through the New York Blood Center on Thursday, May 3. The blood drive took place all throughout the school day in the annex gym, with student volunteers from the National Honor Society splitting morning and afternoon shifts. NHS President Quinn VanEs and Vice President Kaylynn Pierce worked on checking students in and out, while other members helped escort students to the canteen station after donating.

Quinn and Kaylynn

The canteen served as a station for students to recuperate for 15 minutes with food or drink before heading back to class.

Donors were required to sign up beforehand and were given appointments in advance for throughout the school day. Information was given to sophomores, juniors, and seniors in their gym class. 124 people registered, although some were turned away due to health reasons like low blood pressure. Of the 124 registered, 118 units of blood were collected - more than last year's donations.

Post blood-donation: Seniors Ali Rose, Sarah Haag, and Emily Irwin
Mrs. Kopp, National Honor Society advisor, emphasizes the importance of the annual blood drive in the Sparta High community - "The blood drive's been going on for years, and each year more and more kids are signing up. It's great because they're realizing how important of a cause it is and that they themselves are able to help. We're always so impressed by the students that come out every year to contribute."

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Teacher Appreciation Day!

Written by: Elise Kerim

Today, Tuesday May 8 2018, is known as Teacher Appreciation Day. In 1980, Congress declared the first Tuesday in March to be National Teacher Day until 1985, when the National Parent Teacher Association established the first full week of May to be known as Teacher Appreciation Day.

On Friday, the Sparta PTO will host a brunch for teachers and staff in the building.

It's vital that as students, we take a day to recognize our teachers. Education goes beyond books, lectures, and doing work after hours. It leads to success, and this is evident as college admissions roll in, acceptances to summer programs fall in our laps, Student of the Month nominees are released, and countless of other benefits are seen.

The teachers at Sparta High School are the backbone for our success, and yes, sometimes even the struggle. This is for a good reason - they want to see growth in you, the student. All of the teachers are happy to be here and are here because they want to. Our teachers at Sparta High teach us lessons, but often that lesson is something that a textbook could never touch the surface of. Rather, they teach us lessons about us as people, about morals, and establishing that "I can and I will" attitude.

Today, thank the teacher that goes above and beyond class. Smile at the teacher whose class you may be struggling in. Acknowledge the fact that teachers are people, too.

Credit: WRAL Website