For 10 years now Mason’s Russian and Eurasian Studies program has hosted the Virginia State Olympiad of Spoken Russian, a secondary school initiative sponsored by the American Council of Teachers of Russian (ACTR). Launched by ACTR in a few high schools in 1975, the Olympiad of Spoken Russian has become a national event, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2015. The Olympiad draws on the long-established tradition of oral competitions within the Russian educational system, and provides a forum for American high school students of Russian to demonstrate their proficiency in speaking Russian before a panel of judges, mostly advanced university students and professors of Russian. Just as in the Olympic sports competitions, students may earn gold, silver, or bronze medals for demonstrating proficiency at their level of study.
The Olympiad brings to Mason some 200 students of Russian from five Virginia high schools: Forest Park High School, Heritage High School, C. D. Hylton High School, Langley High School, and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. Each year 25-30 of Mason’s advanced students of Russian, along with Mason’s Russian-speaking faculty members, serve as judges. Students in lower level Russian classes, who may not yet have the language expertise to serve as Olympiad judges, also play important roles, staffing the registration table, escorting students to their assigned judging rooms, assisting in the judging rooms, and offering traditional Russian hospitality to our guests!