Bright Side Education

Seneca Students Medal in National Russian Essay Contest

The contest offers a unique opportunity to reward students for their progress in the study of the Russian language.

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Four Russian II students, who represented Seneca High School in the 40th

on November 17, 2021, have earned bronze medals for their efforts. They each competed at the “Beginner Level.”

The competitors are sophomores: Dylan Birnbohm-Kaminski, Luke Handt, Kerry Hartman, and Alex Sztajerwald. This was the first year that Seneca participated.

(Photos provided)

“I am proud of my students,” noted Seneca Russian teacher Marian Barnum. “Taking into account the fact that only 68 Bronze Medals were awarded in the entire United States, the fact that Seneca students earned 4 of them is awesome.”

Established 40 years ago, the American Council of Teachers of Russian National Russian Essay Contest provides high school students the opportunity to demonstrate their writing proficiency in Russian.

“The contest offers a unique opportunity to reward students for their progress in the study of the Russian language,” explained Barnum. “Students write essays in Russian on a topic announced at the beginning of the two-hour period. This year the topic was friendship. All students are given the same topic, but they are judged on their respective levels: Beginner (Russian II), Intermediate (Russian III), or Advanced (AP Russian). In addition, LRHSD students write in Russian cursive, as in Russia it is the mark of an educated person to know how to write in script.”

Essays are judged at the Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced levels, and scores are based upon task completion, comprehensibility, organization, vocabulary, and language control (grammar, spelling, punctuation).

All students whose essays receive Gold, Silver, Bronze, or Honorable Mention receive certificates. Gold, Silver, and Bronze essayists also receive medals.

Last year was the first year that Russian was offered at Seneca High School.

The only other high schools in South Jersey that offer Russian are Cherokee High School (also in the LRHSD) and Vineland High School.


The Lenape Regional High School District’s four high schools – Lenape, Shawnee, Cherokee, and Seneca – as well as the Sequoia Alternative Program, educate approximately 6,850 students from eight communities in Burlington County.

The communities served include Evesham, Medford, Medford Lakes, Mount Laurel, Shamong, Southampton, Tabernacle, and Woodland.

The Lenape Regional District is among the highest-achieving districts in the state, with an average graduation rate of 97.4% and an average combined SAT score of 1139.

A leader in progressive education, the LRHSD’s mission is to develop physically and emotionally healthy students who excel in an ever-changing world.