Friends junior Ryan Hardy ’19 was recently selected by the American Councils of Teachers of Russian (ACTR) to serve on the United States delegation to the International Olympiada of Spoken Russian. The event took place in Moscow at the renowned Pushkin Institute from December 3 to 8, 2017.

This is the second consecutive year that a Friends School student has been selected to the U.S. team. Last year, Kyle Spawn ’17, now a freshman at University of Maryland, College Park, also competed in the International Olympiada and earned one of nine awards given for conversational Russian.

The International Olympiada offers Russian language students from around the globe the opportunity to compete for international medals and have their language skills assessed by experts from The Pushkin Institute. This year’s competition included a total of 151 high school students representing 30 countries. Ryan was one of just six Russian language students – and the only Maryland resident – selected to represent the United States at the International Olympiada. (The remaining U.S. delegates hail from Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia.) Their trip was funded by MAPRYAL (the International Association of Teachers of Russian Language and Literature), the Pushkin Institute in Moscow, and the American Councils for International Education.

The U.S. State Department, under the auspices of the National State Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y), has identified Russian as one of eight critical languages needed to promote international dialogue and support American engagement abroad.

Friends School of Baltimore has been offering Russian language to its students since 1956, just one year before the Soviet Union launched Sputnik. At that time the School was one of only 16 U.S. high schools, public or private, to offer such classes. Claire Walker, a lifelong Quaker and self-taught Russian speaker who taught history, geography, economics, and Latin at Friends before pioneering its Russian program, is credited with bringing the Olympiada of Spoken Russian to U.S. schools and, in 1981, became the first American to receive the prestigious Pushkin Medal in recognition of her excellence in the dissemination of the Russian language.

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