Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science students took top honors in the Olympiad of Spoken Russian, held at Rhodes College in Memphis April 6. The contest is a unique event among language competitions and tests the most difficult aspect of language acquisition, speaking. In the four parts of the event, contestants describe in Russian themselves, their families and their interests; discuss aspects of Russian culture and geography; recite Russian poetry; and answer questions based on Russian narratives.

Senior Haley Hsu of Horn Lake received the overall gold medal and was recognized for the highest score ever earned at the Olympiada contest in the Memphis region. For her achievement, the judges nominated Haley for national recognition by the American Council of Teachers of Russian.

Fellow Russian 2 team members Hillary Gerber of Columbus and Alex Wheeler of West Point received gold medals and Noah McKone of Bogue Chitto won silver. In this group Alex received the highest score.

In Russian 1, juniors Elise Cook of Steens, Sydney “Sam” Matrisciano of Winona, Micah Robinson of Brandon and Matthew Westmoreland of Terry won gold. Matthew was the high scorer in Russian 1. Sam was given a special award for grace and composure in her responses to the questions and tasks of the Olympiad.

“I’m tremendously proud of these students,” said MSMS Russian teacher Margaret Mary Henry. “They have worked very hard. What a joy to see their efforts so richly rewarded.” Ms. Henry also had praise for junior Olga Goupalova, an MSMS junior originally from St. Petersburg, Russia who helped coach the MSMS team. “Olga did a superb job and was a big part of our success. She is an excellent peer tutor who truly reflects the four MSMS ideals of scholarship, community, service and creativity.”