Ascension Students Learn Computer Programing with Operation Spark

Students attend Operation Spark classes after school at St. Amant High
**Please note: A previous version of this release incorrectly listed Dutchtown High instead of Donaldsonville High as one of three locations. Please use this corrected version.**

Donaldsonville, La — High school students in Ascension Public Schools are learning computer coding and programing with a new after-school class called Operation Spark.

Operation Spark is a non-profit organization that began in New Orleans in 2013 and has since grown to provide education and opportunities to high school students in Louisiana. Students learn JavaScript and receive a Jumpstart nationwide credential. The class also serves as a half credit course, which is free to students.

There are currently over 60 students enrolled in the program from all four Ascension Parish high schools who are attending classes after school at three separate locations: Donaldsonville High, East Ascension High and St. Amant High schools. Every student who completes the first semester will receive a coding credential. 

Supervisor of Career and Technical Education Ronda Matthews was instrumental in implementing this program. She has hopes of helping to introduce an advanced class to students in the Spring semester.

For those who are committed to learning computer coding, an intense summer program will be offered which consists of six 12-hour days. Matthews said that while the program is not for everyone, those who complete it will automatically be offered a job in the computer field.

The website predicts that there will be a shortage of about 1 million software jobs by 2020. Operation Spark could possibly help to close this gap.

“I think this is a great program, and this is the future for many of our students,” said Matthews.

Operation Spark teacher Ben SpectorThe classes take place after school hours because they are taught by people in the industry. Ben Spector teaches a class at St. Amant High School on Mondays, among other campuses in South Louisiana and has been teaching through Operation Spark for about a year. 

“We’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback from students who say they want to go to college and study computer science,” Spector said. “I believe it is really empowering for students who grew up with technology, and they are learning how to understand something that everyone uses but not everyone understands.”

Spector said Operation Spark hopes to eventually introduce virtual classes for students who are unable to attend classes in person. 

While these classes provide a Jumpstart credit, students do not have to be in Jumpstart to take the class. They also do not need any previous experience with computer programing or coding to take the class.

St. Amant High Junior Brett Allen is currently enrolled in the program. He plans to pursue animation in college and believes this class could be beneficial to him in the future. “I wanted to learn more about computer science and the programming behind software,” said Allen. 

Any Ascension high school students interested in joining this program during the Spring semester should see their guidance counselor or a career coach on their campus. More information about Operation Spark can be found at For more information about Ascension Public Schools, visit