St. Anne’s-Belfield School will host its third annual SPARK! high school hackathon on Jan. 28 and 29, this year seeking to engage and inspire up to 80 regional computer science enthusiasts. In preparation for the event, SPARK! organizers seek community mentors, partners, and sponsors to participate in learning and making throughout the weekend.

“One reason we started the hackathon is to connect high school students to a wide variety of professionals who work with technology, so students can see first-hand the power of creating tech and the impact it has on so many different fields,” said Zach Minster, event co-coordinator and instructor of computer science at St. Anne’s-Belfield School.

As part of its mission, the SPARK! Hackathon presents students with real-world problems to solve in teams and while working with mentors. As in the past two years, teams will tackle problems presented by sponsors such as how to track warning signs of a diabetic hypoglycemic attack, protect the Open Web, and fulfill a community need. Deliverables have included prototypes of wearable tech, live websites, app interfaces, and more.

“I was able to work with people representing companies whose names I recognized immediately,” said 2016 participant, 2017 mentor, and 2018 student organizer and Albemarle High School senior Cami Pastore. “It made me feel like I was doing something important, and like I could represent a major company one day.”

In addition to financial sponsors, the hackathon requires a full complement of workshop leaders, group mentors, and other volunteers able to devote the weekend to interacting with a variety of high school students. All volunteers will be required to pass a background check. 

To find out more about the third annual SPARK! hackathon or submit a student application, visit or contact Applicants must currently attend high school, but no prior experience is required. Student applications to the hackathon will be accepted through Dec. 15. Applications received after that date will be placed on the waitlist. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis starting the first week in January.