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Spark Academy

Student-driven Learning Experiences Beyond the Classroom

At Spark Academy, we recognize and value that each student has a unique way of learning and engaging with their education.  We developed our Extended Learning Opportunity (ELO) program to provide authentic learning experiences that allow students to engage with academic content, community partners, and/or vocational material. Most of these experiences take place during a student’s third and fourth years. ELOs are credit-bearing, student-driven experiences that take place outside of a traditional classroom setting. These opportunities allow students to:


  • Experience Hands-on Work

  • Explore a Hobby or Academic Subject

  • Discover New Career Paths

  • Make Valuable Industry and Career Connections 

Spark Academy Extended Learning Opportunities (ELOs)

ELO Components

Each Extended Learning Opportunity is comprised of some (if not all) of the following components:

• Product
• Research
• Presentation
• Reflection

Click below for a detailed description of these components and their respective requirements.


There are four types of ELOs in which students can participate. While each provides a different learning experience, they are all rigorous and relevant to a student’s course of study. Please peruse the types below as you decide which experience will be right for you, and visit our Student Resources page for information on getting started.

Independent Coursework

Students will work with a Mentor Teacher at Spark to adapt a traditional course of study to be suitable for independent work. The content and learning activities that a student covers will be aligned to course-specific competencies. An Independent Coursework ELO is to be utilized when a student either:

(a) Needs to remediate learning from a course that they struggled with in the past, or

(b) Strives to take a course that is not offered at Spark or via another pathway like VLACs. Usually, this will include topics that are more advanced than those typically covered at the high school level.


Students may not use Independent Coursework (or other types of) ELOs to opt out of a core Spark course that is offered if it fits in their schedule, or if there is another traditional alternative.


Credits: .25 to .5 credits per semester

Is a Community Partner required?  No

Mentor Teacher required?  Yes

Components required:

• Product

• Research

Career Exploration/ Job Shadow

Students will research the career, and learn about needed qualifications and pathways to enter the field of study. Informational interviews with Community Partners who work in the field are required, and job shadowing Community Partners is highly encouraged.

Credits: .25 credits per semester

Is a Community Partner required?  Yes

Mentor Teacher required?  No

Components required:

• Product

• Research

• Reflection

• Presentation


As defined by New Hampshire ELO literature, “internships are an exploratory opportunity offered by an employer to provide real-world experience to those looking to explore or gain the relevant knowledge and skills required to enter into a particular career field.” Students engaging in an Internship ELO spend regular time at a work site supervised by a Community Partner as they engage in work-based learning. Internships can be paid or unpaid.


Credits: .25 to .5 credits per semester

Is a Community Partner required?  Yes

Mentor Teacher required?  No

Components required:

• Product

• Research

• Reflection

Project-Based Learning

Project-based Learning ELOs provide an opportunity for students to answer an Essential Question that addresses a complex real-world issue. Students should use PBL ELOs to explore topics in an interdisciplinary manner, combining the knowledge and information from multiple fields to come to new understandings. 


Credits: .5 credits per semester

Is a Community Partner required? Typically

Mentor Teacher required?  Yes

Components required:

• Product

• Research

• Reflection

• Presentation

What Type of ELO is Best for You?

There are many different types of Extended Learning Opportunities to select from. Start by thinking about what fields or industries are of interest to you. Be sure to review the ELO Components and Types of ELOs described above. We’ll help guide you through the process.

Getting Started:  Ready. Set. ELO!

Are you interested in completing an ELO? Follow these steps.

✓ Complete the:

 ELO Request Form

Use this form to help you brainstorm and come up with a rough draft of your idea.


✓ Connect with our ELO Coordinator

Submit your form either in person or via email


✓ Schedule a meeting

Schedule a meeting to get started. 


Click below to access key ELO information, required paperwork, and quick links.

Community Partners

Community Partners are essential to our Extended Learning Opportunities program, providing mentorship and support for our students.


  • Who are the stakeholders in an ELO?
    • Student: The most important piece of an ELO! Remember, an ELO is student-driven! • ELO Coordinator: Facilitates the ELO process, and co-leads assessment. • Mentor-Teacher: Provides mentorship and coaching for many ELO students, helps establish content-specific competencies, and co-leads assessments. • Community Partner: Provides mentorship and oversight at the worksite and connection into the community. Sometimes the community partner assists with student assessments.
  • When do ELOs occur and how long are they?
    ELOs can occur before, during, and after the school day, and they can happen at any point in the year (even in summer!). Students regularly meet with a mentor teacher, the ELO Coordinator, and sometimes a community partner to assess progress. ELOs vary in duration but are not constrained by the typical timing of the school year.
  • What are the benefits of ELOs?
    With ELOs, you, the student, are in charge of your learning. You can design (in conjunction with teachers and Community Partners) how you want to learn, and then complete your course of study in a way that feels right for you. According to a report published by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, “ELOs have been linked to better attitudes toward school, higher educational aspirations, and improved school attendance”.
  • What have ELOs looked like in the past?
    Spark’s ELO program is new, so our first ELOs are just beginning. Follow this link to Beyond Classrom’s website to see examples from schools across New Hampshire.
  • How do I start?
    Complete an ELO Request Form, a place to record your thoughts and brainstorm ideas around a specific topic. Once completed, you’ll meet with our ELO Coordinator to present your idea. You may set up a meeting with him via email.
  • Who do I contact if I have questions?
    Contact our ELO Coordinator at
  • Who is eligible to complete ELOs?
    All Spark students can and are encouraged to participate in Extended Learning Opportunities. We would love to see you complete an ELO, regardless of your interests or academic standing.
  • Do you have clubs and sports?
    We currently have a robotics team and a drone team, which meet after school; and Student Council, Creative Club, Yearbook, and D&D which meet on Exploration Wednesdays. Clubs are student-created and student-led, and must be approved by Student Council and school administration. Students may participate in sports teams that are run by their sending high school. Students are responsible for getting their own transportation to after-school practices and games, and for arranging early departure from Spark (if necessary) with school administration.
  • Who may attend this high school?
    Spark Academy is an open enrollment high school for grades 9-12. Any high school student who officially resides in the state of New Hampshire is eligible for admission. However, our program is unlike that of a typical high school and it's important that prospective students understand it thoroughly by attending Information Nights, shadow days, and individual pre-enrollment meetings. Our program is not for everyone and we want our students to be successful!
  • What is the mission of Spark Academy?
    Spark Academy seeks to empower students with opportunities to master technical skills, both practical and theoretical, in the context of a high school and early college program that emphasizes the dignity and value of work. Students will discover an appreciation for the power of the sciences combined with an understanding of humanities. They will develop into innovative problem-solvers, ready to enter technical careers in the workforce upon graduation or through further study.
  • What is a charter school?
    Charter schools are public schools of choice that operate with freedom from many of the regulations that apply to traditional public schools. Charter schools are independent, tuition-free to in-state students and are highly accountable. Charter schools are operated in accordance to a specific mission or "charter". The "charter" establishing each school is a performance contract detailing the school's mission, program, goals, students served, methods of assessment, and ways to measure success. As of March 2019, there are 28 public charter schools operating in New Hampshire. Together these public schools serve over 3,800 families. New Hampshire charter schools offer New Hampshire students a diverse range of mission and program options to choose from. Charter schools allow children and their families an opportunity to find the public education option that best serves their needs and interests. According to U.S. News and World Report (2015), there are now more than 6,500 chartered public schools operating in the United States.
  • What is the schedule like?
    Our school day for first and second year students consists of four 90-minute blocks: Technology, Math, Science, and Humanities. In the third year, we expect many of our students' schedules to shift in order to accommodate college level classes. Wednesdays are Exploration Days and consist of a variety of student-enrichment and career exploration opportunities.
  • What is the average class size?
    Class size never exceeds 15, as this is the maximum number of students per cohort. Cohorts go through the school day as a group, which encourages cohesiveness and bonding. The cohort model has always been a key feature of Spark Academy.
  • What can a student accomplish through the Running Start and Early College programs?
    Both of these can be taken for dual credit. Students may earn tangible skills and graduate high school with a certificate or a good start towards an associate degree.
  • If my student is an active learner, how will he or she fit in this school?
    Spark Academy’s curriculum and schedule plan elements were specifically designed with the active learner in mind. Students will cultivate knowledge in workshops and projects involving robotics, machining, laser-cutting, 3D printing, CAD, and other tools. Our rigorous program also involves theoretical learning and requires persistence, hard work, and motivation!
  • Which MCC programs will be available to my student?
    After year two, all Early College courses offered by Manchester Community College will be available for the Spark students. However, Spark Academy will focus on the technologies such as Advanced Manufacturing, Robotics, Mechatronics, Cybersecurity, Computer Science, Welding, HVAC, etc.
  • Where is Spark Academy located?
    Spark Academy is located on the Manchester Community College campus in Manchester, NH and directly benefits from MCC’s Running Start, Early College, and other programs. Our students have the opportunity to participate in community service projects and a variety of other enrichments made available to us through the cooperative relationship we enjoy with MCC.
  • How much does it cost to attend Spark Academy?
    Spark Academy is a tuition-free public high school. Students taking Early College electives with MCC may be charged at a reduced rate.
  • Is there a school bus?
    Students who reside in Manchester may take the school bus. There is also a MTA bus route to the MCC campus, which high school students are entitled to ride for free. Parents are responsible for ensuring their student is comfortable with transfers and city bus schedules.
  • Section D: Fiscal Management
    DB- Annual Budget DBC - Budget Preparation DBI - Budget Implementation DBJ - Transfer of Appropriation DGD - School Credit Cards DIE - Audits DIH - Fraud Prevention and Fiscal Management DKC - Expense Reimbursements DZA - Capital Assets DZB - Debt DZC - Operating Reserve
  • Section K: School, Community, Home Relations
    KE - Public Complaints
  • Section B: School Board Governance and Operation
    BAA - Evaluation of the Board BBA - School Board Powers and Duties BBAA - Board Member Authority BBBD - Board Member Removal from Office BBBG - Faculty Members of the School Board BCA - School Board Member Ethics BCB - Board Member Conflict of Interest BEA - Regular Board Meetings BEAA - Board Meeting Preparation BEC - Non-Public Session BEDB - Agenda BEDH - Public Participation at Board Meetings BG - Board Policy Process and Adoption BIE - Board Member Indemnification
  • Section E: Support Services
    EB - Safety Program EHB - Data / Records Retention
  • Section I: Instruction
    IMAH - Daily Physical Activity
  • TBD
    TBD - Political Contributions TBD - Record Retention TBD - Government Furnished Property and Equipment
  • Section J: Students
    JICG - Tobacco Products Ban Use and Possession In and On School Facilities and Grounds JLDBB - Suicide Prevention Policy JLP - Reporting Child Abuse or Neglect JZB - Pupil Safety and Violence Prevention
  • Section A: Foundations and Basic Commitments
  • Scholarships Available
    We offer financial scholarships to assist families with the cost of college level courses.
  • SOLIDWORKS Associate Level Professional Certification
    22 Students
  • Current Students Enrolled: 86
    Year One Students (Freshmen): 29 Year Two Students (Sophomores): 26 Year Three students (Juniors): 11 Year Four Students (Seniors): 20
  • First & Second Year Dual Credit Classes
    Robotic Design Introduction to Engineering Design & Solid Modeling (CAD) Electrical Fundamentals for Manufacturing Motor Controls & PLC’s for Manufacturing
  • MCC Pathways
    Current MCC pathways explored by our students include: AMT* (Advanced Manufacturing) Cyber Security HVAC Graphic Design *Third year students may select an alternate MCC pathway if they choose not to remain on the AMT track.
  • Dual Credit Classes
    Running Start Early College
  • Small Classes & Groups
    We offer small classes and groups to foster strong peer relationships and enable social skills learning.
  • Accelerated Learning
    Most of our classes are accelerated, with one semester covering a full year of material.
  • Our Daily Schedule
    Our school day consists of four 90-minute classes: Technology Science Math Humanities
  • Internships
    Spark Academy students are eligible for internship opportunities with the following companies: DEKA Summit Packaging Jewel Instruments
  • General Forms
    Communication Release Form COVID-19 Home Daily Screening Form
  • Enrollment Forms
    Student Safety Facility Form Parent Permission to Dispense Medication Form Emergency Information Form
  • Admissions Forms
    Please start here: Your Checklist for Registration & Enrollment at Spark Spark Academy Registration Form Transcripts and Record Release Form Residency Affidavit (Notarization Required) Vaccination Exemption Form
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About ELO's

ELOs are:

• about rigorous academic standards based on standards and competencies

• an extension of the classroom

• a way for teachers to individualize instruction and share their passions

• about demonstrating growth and achievement

• an expansion beyond the school building and into the community

• before, during, and after school, on weekends, during vacations, and during the summer

• about applying knowledge

ELOs are NOT:

• an easy way for students to achieve credit

• intended to remove a student from a classroom

• meant to replace local teachers

• based on the amount of time spent on a task

• always school-based

• always during regular school hours 

• memorizing facts

Source: Woodsville High School ELO Program with permission from Scott Nichols

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