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Langley students excel in recent Russian Olympiada speaking exam

A map of Russia represents the language and culture that countless Langley students are exploring in class with Langley’s beloved Russian teacher, Mr. Cukierman

A map of Russia represents the language and culture that countless Langley students are exploring in class with Langley’s beloved Russian teacher, Mr. Cukierman

(Map of Russia. Larry Koester. CC BY 2.0)

(Map of Russia. Larry Koester. CC BY 2.0)

A map of Russia represents the language and culture that countless Langley students are exploring in class with Langley’s beloved Russian teacher, Mr. Cukierman

Lauren Cain, Reporter

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On April 20th, 52 students from Langley’s Russian department visited George Mason University to participate in the Annual Regional Olympiada of Spoken Russian. The exam consisted of four categories: history and culture, poetry presentation, oral narrative, and reading comprehension. Langley won a total of 46 medals at the event, an impressive number, especially considering that the total number of students participating was 52. The students that took the test are currently enrolled in different levels of Russian, ranging from Russian 1 to Russian 4, and were all able to perform well at their respective exam levels.

Not only did they perform well, but participants, particularly sophomore Megan Baird, a Russian 2 student who received an honorable mention award at the Olympiada, were enthusiastic about the experience.

“I participated in Russian Olympiada because I wanted more experience actually putting what I’ve learned in Russian to use and I wanted the opportunity to practice speaking Russian in a different environment than I’m comfortable with,” said Baird.

One of the unique aspects of this exam is that it focuses on speaking, rather than writing. In general, speaking the languages that they learn in school is difficult for students, so this exam poses an extra challenge for Russian students, particularly those in the lower levels of Russian.

Russian 2 Student and silver medalist at the exam, Chloe Edgington, explains why speaking is engaging for her, saying, “I really want to have a job that focuses on languages and foreign relations, so I figured any type of ‘real world’ experience I could participate in would help.”

Mr. Cukierman, Langley’s dedicated Russian teacher, encouraged his students to participate in the exam. Mr. Cukierman, called Kapitan by his students, is known for his enthusiastic approach to learning Russian and his commitment to his students and Langley’s exemplary Russian program.

“Kapitan always ‘talked it up’ and told us how much fun it is and how much of an important experience it would be to improve our speaking skills,” said Edgington.

Referring to Langley’s Russian program more broadly, AP Russian student and bronze medalist at the Olympiada, Lauren Richardson said, “My favorite thing about Langley’s Russian program is the methods which our teacher, Mr. Cukierman, uses to teach us. Not only do we learn grammar and vocabulary, we get to sing songs, learn poetry, and delve into Russian culture. The class is rewarding and also so much fun.”

To prepare for the exam, students utilized a series of packets, one packet specific to each exam level, and were even given time during class to study.

“The whole preparation and learning process was very enriching and has helped me gain more of a vocabulary and sense for the culture,” said Edgington.

Although it was a test, many Langley students who participated enjoyed the experience and feel that their Russian skills have improved as a result of it.

“I feel a lot more confidence in my spoken Russian now – I feel like I have the ability to string sentences together more fluently and I also feel like I improved my grammar by participating in the competition,” said Baird.

Richardson added to that, saying, “I always learn so much after these competitions. There’s so much geography, history, culture, literature, and tales that I get to study.”

Langley overall had an extremely successful experience at George Mason in April, and many of the students who went enjoyed it. Hopefully the Russian department will continue their success in spoken Russian at the exam each year and will continue to have positive experiences with the Olympiada.

Langley Student Participants in Olympiada



Award Russian Level
John Bush


Spencer Brooks HM 1
Matthew Fitzgerald Bronze 1
Nikita Gubenko Gold 1
Conner Hohl Silver 1
Rachel Lesan Bronze 1
Samuel Zamuda Bronze 1
Maximiliano Aedo Gold 2
Megan Baird Silver 2
John Bennett Silver 2
Lindsey Bertin HM 2
Nicholas Bowers Silver 2
Taylor Daniels Bronze 2
Chloe Edgington Silver 2
Lauren Fahlberg Bronze 2
Grace Gent Bronze 2
Nicole Hendzel Gold 2
Joseph Muir Silver 2
Sarina Prasad Bronze 2
Sonia Prasad Bronze 2
Emma Ritchie Bronze 2
Andrew Roberto HM 2
Daum Song Gold 2
Sonya Toloczko Bronze 2
Thora Toloczko HM 2
Julia Vaichekauskas Bronze 2
Oksana Vickers Silver 2
Kai Whipple Silver 2
Allen Averbukh Silver 3
Brooke Baird Silver 3
Ivan Barrer Silver 3
Megan Carlon Silver 3
Sohrob Fatoorechi Bronze 3
Karina Holbrook Gold 3
Zachary Lesan Gold 3
Kayla Minushkin Silver 3
Ian Moran HM 3
Caitlin Nguyen Bronze 3
Hayden Owens HM 3
Abigail Pereira Gold 3
Erin Pierce Silver 3
David Selton Silver 3
Julia Stucky Silver 3
Izzy Tice Silver 3
Niko Woltman Bronze 3
Helen Yablonski Silver 3
Una Miagkov Gold 3
Domenic Aulisi Gold 4
Lauren Richardson Bronze 4
Anna Khachatrian Gold 4
Ignat Miagkov Gold 4
Andrey Smiryagin Silver


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