Back to previous page icon BACK TO BLOG HOME

Meet Orlando, the First Graduating Student at Spark

“The one thing I loved about Spark was the flexibility. Usually, if I had a problem, like feeling sick that day, I could always reschedule the meeting and not have it wasted. Also, if I did not feel prepared, I could postpone meetings. The deadlines were also more flexible and tailored around our personal lives and schedules. It felt nice to not always be pressured by deadlines, and it made school much more enjoyable. A safe place. Just like it should be everywhere. ”

This summer marks a significant milestone for Spark Hybrid High School. We have our first officially graduating student at Spark! 


Even though other students went through Year 13, Orlando R. is the first to take all his Cambridge Exams. Now while he nervously awaits his last results, we wanted to take a moment and have a little chat with him about his experience at Spark: 


Orlando, congrats! You were the first Spark student to get to the Finish line and, thus, win our school’s title of first graduating student! How does that make you feel?


Thanks! Actually, I didn’t even realise that I was going to be the first graduating student at Spark. I knew that I was from the first generation of students, but that was it. Back in primary school, I think I was also part of the “first generation”, as the first generation of graduating students were graduating while I was starting school. So there’s that as well. 


We’ve been talking about our students and their Sparks so much that we wanted to know: What is Your Spark? 


I used to enjoy soccer very much when I was younger, but since the pandemic hit I have to admit that I haven’t been playing so much anymore. Nowadays, I mostly play video games or hang out with my friends. Regardless, I always try to do something that can improve me and motivate me in my free time. 


What brought you to this school? How did you make the choice to come to Spark?


My high school was around 45 minutes away from me, and I had to take the bus every day. Commuting took too much of my time. I did my first 2 years of high school in Bucharest, but then we had to move, and suddenly I had to commute 2-3 hours daily. It was only getting worse. I could have hung in there, but I realised that it was a waste of my personal time. Then there was also the homework part and learning, so I would always end up with no personal time left. 


When it comes to how I made the choice, to be honest, my mom stayed up one night to look for schools, and she found Spark. The move that I was talking about earlier happened during quarantine so we didn’t really consider how we will handle things when the quarantine ends and students have to return to school physically. 


She proposed the idea, and I liked it. The school also had a British curriculum – which I found very useful for university Admission, so I was excited about it. I was already used to doing online work, I didn’t have to waste any time commuting, and there was the British Curriculum, so everything seemed perfect. 


What expectations did you have at the beginning of your Spark experience? Were they met? 


It was certainly different from what I had imagined. I had 1-1 meetings with teachers, which I wasn’t very used to. I also imagined I would be relying much more on my teachers rather than myself  – which I ended up doing. It was up to me to do my homework, to learn, to write down any uncertainties I had, or discussion points, set up meetings, manage time, etc. 


It was a lot of pressure – I don’t mean bad pressure, but rather a good sense of responsibility cultivated in me. 


What skills did you develop while you attended Spark School?


First of all, time responsibility & management. I was very used to procrastinating – which I’ve gotten better at since joining Spark. I learned how to become self-taught. For example, when I started here at Spark, I wasn’t exactly used to not having a teacher there to explain the whole lesson. Now I’m confident that I can teach myself anything and use the time with the teachers for more productive discussions instead. Thanks to Spark’s unique teaching style, I feel like I can better rely on myself now which is a big thing.


1 memorable moment from your high school experience at Spark


I don’t know if this counts, but in my first year here, I had this computer science teacher – Jimmy. The meetings with him were always so enjoyable! I would study the learning materials, and then he’d go over every single topic, and we had very efficient discussions every time. He was always able to make learning enjoyable. I think Mr Jimmy was one of my favourite teachers as he had just finished university, and there was a connection between us. We were closer in age than with other teachers. Because of that, he was much more relatable and understanding, so my interactions with him would always be memorable, something to learn from. 


Did you take advantage of the flexibility offered at Spark during your high school experience?


The one thing I loved most about Spark was the flexibility. Usually, if I had a problem, like feeling sick that day, I could always reschedule the meeting and not have it wasted. Also, if I did not feel prepared, I could postpone meetings. The deadlines were also more flexible and tailored around our personal lives and schedules. It felt nice to not always be pressured by deadlines, and it made school much more enjoyable. A safe place. Just like it should be everywhere. 


What did you think about the Cambridge exam session? Was it difficult?


I actually compared the exams I took with the ones that students had to take here (in Romania). Math seemed more difficult for the students from Romania, but the sciences that I took, I thought, were quite more problematic as there was also the part of computer science, where you had to get some practice as well.


What I found most different – in the Cambridge curriculum, exams are split into 2 sessions. 1 in year 10 and 1 in year 13. The first year I had 8 and the 2nd year 7, so it spanned out over a greater amount of time, and you get some time between exams. For example, I had 2 completely different things for maths: Pure maths and Statistics, and it was a lot more diverse than the math exams here in Romania. I am still waiting for my A2 level exam results, and then I can apply for University enrolment in the fall. 


What are your future plans?


I am considering applying to 3 universities – I had 2 in mind, especially – Babes Bolyai from Cluj or the University of Bucharest – both for the Mathematics and Informatics section. The 3rd university is the Politehnica University of Bucharest, so these are the three main candidates. There is a chance I might apply to another 1 or 2, depending on what else crosses my mind.


I want to work in computer-science-related fields, for example, software engineering. To be able to do this, I have already managed to talk to people about doing some interviews in the domain so I can gather some experience and boost my chances of receiving a position like this in the future. Of course, I will have to see how university goes & the internships. Based on those experiences, my interests might still change. I have a path in mind, but it’s nothing set in stone. Spark taught me about flexibility (smiles).


Please describe your experience in Spark in only ONE WORD


I will have to go with ENJOYABLE – because, overall, it really was enjoyable. I didn’t have to travel for school, got back my free time, didn’t have to wake up early to have meetings, had a lot of time to study and do my work, and was able to reschedule things. It was very flexible. So overall, I must say it was delightful if I were to compare it with a traditional high school experience.


One piece of advice that you would like to give to the next generation of graduating students? 


Don’t leave things for the last second! I crammed a lot before the exams, so maybe manage your time better? I would say start revising things at least 3 weeks before the exams. What I noticed when I took my exams, I finished with the first, and I felt I needed a break. However, the break became longer than expected. The only thing I got wrong on the next exam was the easy stuff I didn’t have time to revise because of the break. This would not have happened if I had managed my time better. So yeah, don’t take too many breaks – or too long ones.”


We thank Orlando for his inspiring words, and we hope the next generation of graduating students will listen to his piece of advice. Until then, we wish Orlando the best of luck in getting into his University of choice, and we can’t wait to hear from him and celebrate the exam results together! 


It is a memorable and emotional moment for the Spark team to see the first student graduate, but if anything – it means that our vision of a better education system works. 


We are proud that we were able to provide Orlando with the flexibility he needed in order to discover himself and enjoy high school, and we hope to have the same effect on the next graduating students as well. 


Ready to cultivate your Spark with us? Contact our Admissions team today and take the first step towards a different kind of education!