SPARKS: Igniting Passions in Young Students


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SPARKS at Orono has helped connect students from elementary all the way to high school with working on their academics.

The SPARKS program, provided by the Orono School District and coordinated by the Orono Community Education Department, began in the winter of 2015/2016 for students to be tutored. SPARKS provides one-on-one academic support for students in the elementary and middle school. Students are paired with a volunteer high school student in National Honor Society [NHS] or adults and work on reading, math, or any other assignment.

“The goal is to provide a community based intervention that provides extra time and support to help close the achievement and opportunity gap for students in our school community. We want to find what sparks each student’s interests and motivation to learn and surround them with more caring adults that can ignite that flame!,” SPARKS advisors Donna Ostvig and Chelsea Rhea said.

SPARKS is a great way to get involved in the Orono community; and for high school students, it’s a great opportunity to volunteer, connect with students and gain educational teaching skills. It is held locally twice a week; each session for an hour.

“SPARKS is something that I look forward to, even if it’s only an hour. I definitely plan to [volunteer] during my senior year,” SPARKS volunteer and high school junior Olivia Tate said.

Students and volunteers alike contribute to the positive energy that SPARKS encompasses, which creates a fun learning environment for the students and the volunteers.

“My favorite part is when we’re working on a problem and the person I’m helping gets it and they become super excited and they’re proud of themselves. It’s kind of an accomplishment on your part too,” Tate said.

Anyone interested in joining SPARKS can fill out the Adult Volunteer Application Form or High School Age Application Form and return it to the Community Education office or email to Genna Torney at [email protected]