This past spring, the Indiana ACTR Olympiada of Spoken Russian resumed operation following a three-year hiatus. Organized by REEI, the Indiana Olympiada is one of approximately 15 regional precollege Russian language competitions that take place annually across the United States under the auspices of the American Council of Teachers of Russian (ACTR). Like all other Olympiada competitions this year, the Indiana Olympiada took place in an ad hoc online format. Students from Jefferson High School in Lafayette and the Indiana Academy of Science, Mathematics, and the Arts (Indiana Academy) in
Muncie took part, demonstrating their prowess and achievements in the study of Russian language and culture. They first submitted a recorded presentation in Russian on some aspect of Russian culture. Entries covered such topics as the works of Anton Chekhov, the music of Pyotr Tchaikovsky, and the city of Moscow. In the second phase of the contest, students engaged in conversation on everyday topics with native-speaking judges Ani Abrahamyan and Natalia Matskevich-Levin, both doctoral students in the IU Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures. Students at Indiana Academy turned in another strong performance as Jasmine Cai, Etta Greathouse, Brooklyn Jester, Kelly Lahaie, and Ayren Stanley took gold medals and their classmates Isaac Mick and Janessa Whitaker silver medals. Jefferson High School students also excelled with a gold medal going to Eve White, silver medals to Charles Long and Cullen Raderstoff, and an honorable mention to Carlos Garcia. Kelly Lahaie of Indiana Academy was also recognized as recipient of the ACTR/SLAVA Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Study of Russian as a testament to her excellent performance at the Olympiada and commitment to mastery of the language.
“This year’s Olympiada really brought out the talents of students and helped them converse with some degree of fluency,” remarked Todd Golding, who has taught Russian at Jefferson for many years. “While the in-person Olympiadas are ideal, this year’s virtual version allowed us to bring more students on board as we were able to avoid weekend scheduling conflicts. Indiana University was really supportive and effective in making adjustments for the changes in format due to COVID.” Speaking for Indiana Academy, where she presides over the Russian program, Heather Rogers commented that “[t]he Olympiada has always been a valuable experience for students, but this year it served a special purpose. The many disruptions caused by the pandemic have made it particularly difficult to foster enthusiasm in students for learning the Russian language. All the fun stuff had to be removed (food preparation and tasting, field trips, special activities, etc). Preparation for the Olympiada is the first time this school year that I have seen the students come to life and enjoy implementing all they have learned in class or on Zoom to get ready for the competition.” REEI congratulates the students and their teachers on their accomplishments at the Indiana Olympiada of 2021 and eagerly awaits the opportunity to host the event next year in in-person format on the IU Bloomington campus!