Flying into academies: SPARK Academy


Shree Delwadia

Raising student-awareness. SPARK Academy, one of the first academies to be demonstrated at SFHS, not only offers personal skills, but also sets students up to be life-long learners. The SPARK Academy supports a variety of different careers in the medical science and research fields.

Imagine life five years from now. Some students will be graduating, some will be moving to college, and others will be out in the workplace. Five years might seem like a lot of time for the arrival of one’s future, but that time goes by quicker than one might think. To prepare for what the future holds, South Forsyth High School has recently established a variety of academies such as MOSAIC, INNOVATION, SPARK, and ENTERPRISE. The academies focus on specific fields of interest such as research or technology and allow like-minded students to connect with their passions and start preparing for the future.

South is rolling out each of its academies one by one and first up is the SPARK Academy. SPARK stands for South Promoting Awareness of Research Knowledge. This academy, dedicated to the fields of science and research, allows students to explore the different careers available to them and gives them the chance to demonstrate their expertise in those fields. The academy connects students’ passions to their everyday high school curriculum. 

To gain the benefits offered by this academy, students should be active participants. SPARK offers students the opportunity to network and learn from businesses and professionals in the community. This helps individuals gather more information about the future job outlook and the expanding knowledge given in the research science and healthcare fields.

Connecting students with current information and expertise, the SPARK Academy prepares students for career paths they might take on in their collegiate or post-secondary education. To learn more in-depth about the different fields that the SPARK Academy supports, visit the SOFO SPARK website here. The academy also helps to develop students’ characteristics and soft skills in areas such as collaboration, team-work, and critical thinking skills. 

“Students in this academy will embrace rigorous academics, take creative risks, and envision great intellectual promise for their future,” said Academy Principal, Ms. Rebecca Hewitt.

SPARK not only consists of teacher leaders but also student leaders who have shown a strong interest or passion in the fields of the academy. SPARK student leaders help to lead certain aspects of the academy and foster their peers to gain more connections with other war eagles who have a similar interest in the medical and research sciences. 

“I am interested in going into the medical field, specifically psychology,” said sophomore SPARK leader Adhrija Anbuchelian. “I believe the SPARK Academy will help those wanting to go into the medical field by giving real-life exposure and having professionals who can guide  students into their future.” 

Additionally, South supports the SPARK Academy with the variety of classes offered to students such as Epidemiology, Human Anatomy, AP Research, Nurse Aid, Physical Science, Earth Science, Health Information, AP Psychology, and many more. Students who take these classes are also possibly taking prerequisites for possible careers they might experience in the future. Also, students can join clubs such as Science National Honor Society, HOSA (Future Health Professionals), MD Junior, Key Club, Red Cross, etc. However, students show not just join the club, but also become involved members and try to take on different leadership roles out of their comfort zone.

Altogether, South’s classes and clubs, supporting the SPARK Academy, help students figure out what their future might consist of. When thinking about the future, knowing is never enough. The only way to truly know if something is right for one’s future is to experience the different aspects of it. 

I have always loved research. I could sit in a library for days and research topics or scour the internet for information. ”

— Ms. Rebecca Hewitt

The academy principal, Ms. Hewitt, and the supporting teachers have a strong interest in the fields of science and research. In fact, some teachers have had past careers in these areas of interest; this gives students the chance to learn first-hand from their teachers and get an insight into what a certain career might consist of doing. 

“I am a proud science nerd, and I believe it is so important that students have foundational knowledge in personal and public health,” said SPARK Teacher, Ms. Kelsey Parent. “I also have a fellowship through the CDC as a Science Ambassador to spread public health education in schools.”

Throughout the year, as the academies begin to set in, the last Instructional Flex (IF) period of each month is designated for academies. Therefore, last week’s IF period consisted of one of the first Med Talks in the SPARK Academy. This first MedTalk was led by student leaders and one of SPARK’s teachers, Ms. Parent.

During the MedTalk, students got the chance to ask questions to former South student and a recent graduate from the University of Georgia, Sydney Habegger. During the MedTalk, she discussed her majors, [Psychology and Biology] different things to do to stand out to colleges, and how she is taking on the path of public health. To watch the first SPARK Academy MedTalk, click here.

However, the MedTalk wasn’t the only thing the SPARK Takeover Week consisted of. All of last week, spirit days were dedicated to different medical science fields for students to learn more about the doctors around them. Below is a video highlighting each spirit day, showing the growing amount of school spirit within the student body.

As the school year continues, students will get more opportunities to learn about the SPARK Academy and also encounter many more spirit days supporting the academy. All in all, the SPARK Academy helps to spread awareness about the array of different medical and research-related career paths. As one of the first academies to role out, SPARK serves as a path into the other academies. 

“The [SPARK] academy hopes that students see the many connections that can be made to our other academies,” mentioned Ms. Hewitt. “No matter what academy students become involved in, the ultimate goal is for students to find a place where our large school can feel small and help them connect their passions and interests among fellow students and teachers with like-mindedness.”