The start of another SPARC year is just about a month away. Because of your commitment and generosity, we’ve ensured that SPARC can operate fully this coming academic term, providing the students with opportunities to enjoy and learn from their experiences.
The NEHS Project SPARC Boosters officially became a chartered association operating under the NEHS Alumni Foundation on 1 July. We are planning a number of activities for the coming year, including a fundraising campaign and a fundraising event. We also got a great idea to hold a SPARC Alumni reunion. So look for more information about these activities in future announcements. Remember, our objective is to establish a sustained pool of funds to keep SPARC operating for many years to come.
In preparation for these activities I’m pleased to announce the launch of our new Facebook Page and the Booster website. We are going to phase out the Mission: Save SPARC Facebook page. It has served us well, but we needed a new page to reflect the formation of the SPARC Boosters. The new page is: NEHS Project SPARC Boosters. So please, when you’re on Facebook, go to the page and “Like it.” Also please add your comments, photos and stories.
The website has been under development and review for the last two months. We are very excited that we will now have a web presence and also be able to accept donations and inquiries. On the page you will find background on the Boosters, Project SPARC and information on how to make donations and get involved. We’ve also included a reference to recent articles and news reports about SPARC. Under development, but not yet active, is an archive for SPARC history and photographs.
Both the Facebook page and the website are works-in-progress. So we welcome your comments and suggestions for improvement. One area that you can help with is testimonials. The site currently has several testimonials from donors and alumni. We want to keep the site fresh by continually rotating new testimonials. So, if you would like to have your testimonial posted on the site, just send us a message.
We do intend to post frequent updates on the fundraising effort, the impact of the donations and reports on SPARC activities in both places.
For now enjoy and we look forward to your continued involvement in securing SPARC’s future.
On a special note, former astronaut and Friend of SPARC Chris Ferguson visited NEHS yesterday. He had a chance to tour the SPARC facility and to see the upgrades made possible from the many donations we received. He also had a chance to speak to the SPARC students. (See photos)
The SPARC Boosters just held a meeting to start the planning for creating a fundraising program. In order to carry out this effort the Boosters created several standing committees and our goal is to have them operating by the end of July.
Here’s your opportunity to put your skills and passion to work in support of the SPARC Boosters. We’re seeking volunteers to serve on these committees and to contribute to the effort to sustain SPARC for the long-term. Below is a list of the committees and their functions.
If you are interested in finding out more information, please send me a message. You will find the experience very rewarding.
Events Committee - Support the planning and organizing of fundraising events and other activities
Annual Giving - Support the development and maintenance of an annual giving program
Corporate/Foundation Relations - Establish and maintain relationships with corporate and foundation sponsors
Publicity and Marketing - Develop and maintain publicity and marketing materials including the website, social media, newsletter and e-mail updates
Awards and Scholarships - Develop and oversee awards and scholarships for SPARC students
Finally, our website is now in development and we’ll be sure to keep you posted on the launch date. And we’ll soon be transiting the Mission: Save SPARC Facebook page to the NEHS SPARC Boosters page so check back soon.
SPARC held its final flight of the year on Thursday and Friday. The objective of the mission was to establish a permanent colony on the moon. Coupled with the flight was an open house for alumni, donors, parents and other friends.
Below are two links for the press coverage of the flight.
It was a really exciting event and those of us attending had an opportunity to meet with many of the students, including the astronauts. A number of SPARC alumni were there and it was great to see old friends. A real highlight of course was seeing Robert Montgomery Jr., SPARC’s founder.
We had a chance to speak with him and express our thanks and appreciation for his dedication as a teacher and for the impact he had on so many students. Even the current students were excited about the opportunity to meet Mr. Montgomery.
I would like to extend my thanks and congratulations to all of the current SPARC students, to Mr. Connelly, the SPARC Director and to Mr. Frank, the Magnet School Director, for hosting such a fine event. And best wishes to all of the SPARC seniors for success in college and all of their future endeavors. We expect you back as members of the Boosters.
Finally, a special thank you to all of the donors. When we started this effort back in December there was no guarantee this flight would take place. Your generosity made it all possible! Now SPARC is secure for the next academic year and the NEHS Project SPARC Boosters is now in place to begin the plans for the long-term sustainability of the program.
The date for the next Booster meeting is not yet confirmed. It is tentatively scheduled for the week of June 2. I will keep you posted. The website is also under development and we hope to have that operational before the end of June.
Please let me know if you would like to get involved with the Boosters or if you have any questions.
The final mission of the year was successfully launched this morning. I'll provide a more detailed recap of the mission in another post.
But also occurring today is the open house. We have a number of alumni attending. The open house is from 3 to 5:30 PM. If you didn't RSVP that's ok. If you're in the area just stop. You can enter through the SPARC wing.
As an added incentive for SPARC alumni, Mr. Montgomery is stopping by.
On behalf of Northeast High School's Project SPARC and the Project SPARC Boosters, we would like to invite you to the next scheduled two-day flight. The flight will take place on Thursday, May 22 and Friday, May 23. The mission is to establish a permanent colony on the moon.
During this mission, there will be two separate launches. A Delta IV Rocket with an Orion capsule attached will carry a crew of four astronauts. The other rocket will be an Ares rocket that will carry six months of supplies to the habitat on the moon. Two astronauts will be left on the moon at the end of the flight.
The first launch will take place on Thursday, May 22 at 8:30 AM. At the end of the school day, the SPARC wing will remain open to visitors for an open house from 3:00 to 5:30 PM. During this time, visitors will have the opportunity to speak with the student members of SPARC and to see the facility and technology upgrades that were made possible by the overwhelming support of the Northeast Alumni and the Northeast community.
All donors, alumni, parents and friends of SPARC are invited to attend. If you plan to attend during the school day, you must enter through the main entrance on Cottman Avenue. If you plan on attending the open house, you can enter directly through the SPARC/Magnet Wing on the Summerdale Avenue side of Northeast High School.
If you are interested in attending, please send me a message. I will be submitting all of the names to the SPARC Director. You will receive a confirmation message with the final instructions.
Three months of effort came to a close on Wednesday, 16 April 2014, as the SPARC Planning Team approved the Charter and By-Laws for the NEHS Project SPARC Boosters. We are now an officially chartered association operating under the NEHS Alumni Foundation.
The planning team also elected the first Advisory Board that will govern the Boosters. There are 14 voting members. The list is as follows:
"¢ NEHS SPARC Alumni Members: Burt Dicht, Brett Mandel and Aaron Friedmann
"¢ SPARC Director: Joe Connelly
"¢ Magnet School Director: Christopher Frank
"¢ NEHS Faculty Member: Bonnie Taylor
"¢ SPARC Faculty Advisor: Anne Johnson
"¢ Alumni Foundation Representative: Howard Rovner
"¢ NEHS Administration Representative: Sharon McCloskey (Betty DeNaples, Alternate)
"¢ Members-at-Large: Kathy McAdoo and John Kamal
"¢ SPARC Parent Representative: Carole Niemiec
In addition, two SPARC students will be selected to serve on the board as voting members.
I also want to report that the board elected me to serve as the first Director. I consider it an honor and a privilege and I look forward to working with a great group of people as we secure SPARC's long-term future.
On the fundraising front, we have raised almost $20,000 through the GoFundMe site and direct donations to the Alumni Association. We have used some of the funds for facility and technology upgrades (new control room floor tiles and a digital video system), faculty stipends, supplies for the Robotics Group and CPR certifications for the Medical Group. With more than $15,000 remaining in the fund we are well positioned to support SPARC's operations for 2014-15. And with Gary's computer donation along with the other technology upgrades , the SPARC students planning for the next mission are going to be well equipped.
The next mission is scheduled for 22-23 May. You are all invited to stop by and cheer on the students as many seniors will be completing their final mission. And it was your help and generosity that made it possible. I'll provide more information on the mission in another message since the school will be asking anyone that plans to attend to RSVP.
Look for more details about the SPARC Boosters soon. We plan on recruiting additional members to the working committees that will be supporting the board's activities. A website is also under development and we hope to launch that (pun intended) in June.
Our next meeting is planned for the week if 2 June. If you are interested in participating, please let me know.
Thanks to everyone who has had a role in saving SPARC.
The next meeting is scheduled for 16 April and we intend to finalize the Charter and By-laws for the NEHS Project SPARC Boosters. If you are interested in attending, please send me a message and I will get you the details.
It has been a few weeks since the last update. We held a planning meeting yesterday to review the second draft of the NEHS Project SPARC Boosters Charter and By-laws. I’m very happy to say that we resolved several outstanding issues and we’re going to complete one more revision.
We have scheduled the next meeting for Wednesday, 16 April to conduct a final review and to approve the governance document. We have settled on an Advisory Board that consists of 13 members. The Board will include 3 SPARC alumni, the SPARC Director, the Magnet School Director, 2 SPARC students, a non-Magnet school teacher, an Alumni Association Foundation representative, a NEHS Administration representative, 2 Members-at-Large and a Parent representative (of a SPARC or Magnet School Student).
The current timetable is to have the Board operating by 1 July. And we also have started the process of creating a Booster website that we intend to have running by June.
As for SPARC itself, I mentioned during the last update that our funds are being used for a new floor in the control room. That work is continuing and there will be several more upgrades completed in preparation for the next flight, scheduled now for May. In addition, our funds were used to pay for the CPR certificate fees for the students in the medical group, who just completed their training.
It’s been very exciting to see the impact our donations have had on SPARC and the students. But we have more work to complete in order to get SPARC on a solid financial footing and I’m confident with your help we’ll be successful.
If anyone would like to attend the next meeting, please let me know and I’ll send you the details.
We held our second planning meeting yesterday and I wanted to provide you with a status report.
In terms of fundraising, between the GoFundMe site and donations sent directly to the Alumni Association, we have raised $18,895.53. So again, I want to thank all of the donors. These funds have been placed in a separate SPARC Fund account established by the Alumni Association.
I am also very happy to report that your donations have started to have an impact. A major facility upgrade was needed for the SPARC Control Room floor. This is a raised floor that enables easy access to the system and console cables. They are using your donations to replace the floor tiles. And like many things in SPARC, the students are very involved in the process. I will continue to report on how your donations are being put to use in future messages.
In terms of our planning for the creation of an association that would serve to manage the long-term fundraising effort, we made a great deal of progress. A draft description is below:
The Northeast High School (NEHS) Project SPARC Boosters, operating under the NEHS Alumni Association, exists as an organization of alumni, students, parents, teachers, donors and community members dedicated to:
"¢ Ensuring there are adequate funds to maintain SPARC's annual operations
"¢ Creating and maintaining a pool of funds to be used by SPARC to improve facilities, upgrade technology and maintain state-of-the-art operations
"¢ Supporting, encouraging and advancing Project SPARC as a premier after-school program that engages students in science, engineering and medically related activities and inspires them professionally
The plan is to have the Boosters governed by an Advisory Board that consists of NEHS SPARC Alumni, current SPARC students, the SPARC and Magnet School Directors, representatives from the school administration and the alumni association, a NEHS teacher and several Members-at-Large drawn from the community.
We have started to develop By-Laws for how the Boosters will operate and we are also developing a fundraising plan. Part of the fundraising plan includes creating a dedicated website that will allow for credit card donations as well as provide information on the Boosters' activities and impact.
There is a much more to be completed and we have scheduled the next meeting for 18 March. Let me know if you would like to attend.
In the meantime we are going to keep the GoFundMe site active. And SPARC supporters can also send their donations directly to:
NEHS Alumni Association
1601 Cottman Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19111
Make the checks payable to the NEHS Alumni Association Foundation and place "SPARC Fund" in the memo area.
Please let me know if you have any comments and suggestions related to the plans. We welcome your input.
On Monday, 23 December 2013, members of the Northeast High School Class of 1977 learned that the Philadelphia School District, facing severe budget challenges, cut the funding for Project SPARC and many other after-school programs. Project SPARC, which stands for Space Research Center (formerly Space Research Capsule) was conceived in 1962 by Robert A. G. Montgomery Jr., who was then a physics teacher at Northeast High School, to teach high school students about space exploration.
As word circulated that SPARC was being cancelled, many of my classmates expressed great sadness and regret that such an impactful student program was coming to an end. Since its inception, several thousand students have been involved in launching space missions to orbit, to the International Space Station, to the moon and to Mars. Everything from the design and construction of the spacecraft, to the flight planning and monitoring of the missions was done by students. The SPARC team students needed to develop skills in engineering, medicine, physics, astronomy, safety, teamwork, logistics and planning to carry out the missions. And many of the students, me included, were inspired to pursue careers in engineering, science or medicine.
Nothing can replace the impact of hands-on programs like Project SPARC. Coupled with reports that US students are lagging behind other countries in science and math achievement, the Class of 1977 sees this cancellation as a great tragedy. So we are very motivated to get the funding to restore SPARC.
That is why we have started this fundraising effort and we are asking for your help in re-launching SPARC. Our goal is to raise $5000 over the next month so we can get the program restored for at least the next year. We know this is only a short-term solution, but your generous contribution in support of these talented students will provide the time to explore long-term funding options. So if you're a Northeast High School alumnus, a friend or family member of a graduate or just someone interested in supporting an amazing student based science program, please make whatever donation you can afford. Please also spread the word to help with this important effort.
On behalf of the Class of 1977 and all former and current SPARC members, I thank you in advance for your support. I'll keep you updated on the results of the campaign and the status of Project SPARC.
Per Aspera Ad Astra (Through Hardships to the Stars)
Burt Dicht Northeast High School Class of 1977 SPARC Astronaut and Flight 27 Mission Engineer
Please check out the following links to learn more about Project SPARC:
I was in the Flight Systems group from 1981 to 1984. SPARC gave me direction at a time when I needed it and pointed way to my career. I chose Aerospace because it was written on the side of the SPARC wing.
My husband, Fred Pecker, Class of 1961, and I, Class of 1965, are NE graduates who are most grateful for this opportunity to support young students interested in the sciences. Programs such as SPARC inspire young people to explore the unknown and to challenge themselves. All academic clubs must be supported and funded!