Spark Academy students see learning come to life

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Students Kieran McCurdy, Kai Caron, and Enrique Hernandez in their college-level PLC class at Spark Academy. Courtesy Photo

MANCHESTER, NH – A group of third-year students – known as “juniors” in most high schools – from Spark Academy of Advanced Technologies visited Granite State Manufacturing last week and quickly realized they were seeing what they’ve learned come to life. 

As Granite State Manufacturing’s George Cacace led them on a tour through the facility, the students saw CNC machines running “G and M” code, which they learned to program in their Manufacturing Processes class. They realized they were able to decipher the blueprints they were looking at, thanks to their current college-level Blueprint Reading class. They were able to engage with George in a conversation about precision geometric tolerances and the quality control measures utilized by the facility.

“We got to see all of the concepts we’ve learned over the past two years actualized,” said student John Larochelle. “It was amazing.”

The visit was part of an Exploration Wednesday, a concept that has been built into Spark Academy’s program since the school opened in 2019. The idea is to expose the students to a wide variety of future career options through tours, talks, and field trips. Spark’s Director, Denis Mailloux, says “COVID put a halt to in-person exploration experiences last year, but we’re slowly building them back again.” He continued, “Talking with the people at Granite State Manufacturing really opened our third-year students’ eyes to just how valuable their classroom experiences have been. They were very excited.”

Several of the Spark students had prepared their resumes prior to the visit, and decided to apply for internships that very day. Many of them have already earned industry certifications in SOLIDWORKS through Spark Academy, along with dual credits through Running Start and Early College classes in CAD, Robotics, and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC.)

Spark Academy is a public charter high school located on the campus of Manchester Community College. They currently offer a pathway through the college’s Advanced Manufacturing program, with a goal of training the skilled technicians that are so in demand in New Hampshire industry right now. They are also crafting a Cyber Security pathway for their students and will add others as they grow.

Spark is looking for industry leaders who are interested in partnering with the school to provide Exploration Wednesday experiences and other opportunities for their students. They are now accepting applications for the 2022-23 school year as well. Visit their website at www.sparkacademynh.org for more information.