Youth to compete during Russian Olympiad Thursday

Posted: Sunday, March 15, 2009

For the first time ever, the American Council of Teachers of Russian, with help from the University of Alaska Southeast, will host its annual statewide Olympiad of Spoken Russian competition in Juneau.

The Olympiad features Russian language competition in three areas, oral speech, country knowledge and declamation, and will take place Thursday at the University of Alaska Southeast's Egan Building.

Janna Lelchuk, a Russian teacher at Juneau's two high schools and UAS, said she's excited the competition will be held locally this year.

"We were given permission to have it (in Juneau) only because we have more than one school offering Russian in Juneau," she said. "With the opening of (Thunder Mountain High School), it became possible."

In previous years, due to the expenses of traveling to Anchorage, Juneau could only send two to five students. But this year, all of Lelchuk's high school students will have a chance to compete.

And although Anchorage also will host their own Olympiad, Juneau's event will have the same status, due to the equal number of participants. This way, students from across the state can choose which Olympiad they want to compete in.

"I am confident my students will do well," Lelchuk said.

Lelchuk said the competition is quite challenging. The oral speech category requires students to speak on various topics such as family and home, interests and hobbies, vacation time or daily routine. For country knowledge, students must speak about Russian culture, art and geography, and students will be required to recite a Russian poem of their choice.

"The judges will be Russian-speaking members of our community, as well as advanced Russian students from UAS," Lelchuk said. "UAS also is hosting this event. It's just another good example of our real partnership - Juneau schools and UAS."

Even a few Floyd Dryden Middle School students will compete.

Students with the highest scores will receive medals, and the top winners will be awarded a three-week trip to Russia for additional studies.

Lelchuk looks forward to seeing the a big turnout.

"(This competition) is important because it's a great educational and cultural experience for our students and a big event for our community as we are bringing four schools together," she said.

• Contact Neighbors editor Kim Andree at 523-2272 or

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