SPARK! Student Leaders

Meet the SPARK! Student Leaders

Hutch Froese - President of SPARK! & History

My name is Hutch, and I am from Lexington which is near Columbia. One of my favorite passions is skiing, both water skiing and snow skiing, as well as learning (I know, nerdy). I also like to play soccer and have been playing it for several years. My favorite subject at GSSM is physics. I joined SPARK! because I wanted to teach kids my favorite subject and found that I also love teaching other things that I'm passionate about. SPARK! has allowed me to discover a love for teaching that I never knew about myself.

Annie Chen – Vice President of STEM & Chemistry

Hi, my name is Annie, and I am a senior at GSSM. My favorite subjects include chemistry, biology, and anything science related. As you can guess, my favorite of these subjects is, of course, chemistry! My favorite parts of my chemistry classes are the labs and cool experiments, and I plan to bring some of those to our SPARK! lessons this year. I joined SPARK! chemistry, as well as several other topics, my junior year, and I am super excited to return but even more excited to see some familiar faces and meet some new ones in the classes. Some of my other favorite hobbies include playing tennis, baking, and watching television! My current favorite shows are Grey’s Anatomy and Stranger Things. I also enjoy reading fantasy books such as Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. I love listening to music as well by two of my favorite artists, Taylor Swift and Lana del Rey. My favorite thing to bake is banana bread, and my favorite dessert is cookies and cream ice cream. If you also enjoy any of these things, feel free to chat with me about them at the end of our lessons! I can’t wait to see you all this fall and spring!

Robert Johnson – Vice President Humanities & Psychology

Hey everyone, I’m Robert Johnson. I’m super excited to be leading SPARK! Psychology this year. I’m a senior at GSSM who grew up in Indian Land, SC. In college, I want to major in experimental psychology with a minor in math. Outside of my classes, I love going on walks with my friends and listening to music. My favorite artists are Pink Pantheress and Steve Reich. I play the tenor saxophone. My favorite movie is “The Help”, and my favorite show is “Infinity Train”. I cannot wait to share all the things I find fascinating about the mind with y'all.

Peter Dastous – Biology Co-Leader

Hey everybody, I’m Peter Dastous! I’m a senior and I’m so excited to be teaching this year’s SPARK biology lesson. Some of my favorite subjects are biology and chemistry and I am currently taking molecular biology and organic chemistry. A little bit about me outside of school is that I love to draw, specifically 2D drawings, and skateboarding. I also cheerlead for GSSM. My favorite movies are Dune (both Dune 1 and 2), all The Hunger Games movies, and Knives Out. My favorite music artists now are Machine Girl, bôa, and Deftones. I'm so excited to teach you all!

Yo-Chih Lai – Biology Co-Leader

Hi, my name is Yo-Chih Lai! I’m a senior at GSSM and my favorite subjects are math, chemistry, and any biology-related course. I am planning to major in Biology or Neuroscience in college. I’m so excited to meet and teach you a little bit about biology this year in SPARK! Outside of school, I enjoy drawing, playing volleyball and soccer, and hanging out with my friends. My favorite TV show is Criminal Minds and I love the series One Piece. I like to read classic literature like Crime and Punishment, The Scarlet Letter, and No Longer Human. I can’t wait to teach you all this year!

Sarah Cate Henderson – Chinese

Hi, my name is Sarah Cate, and I'm SPARK! Chinese Captain! I am a senior at the Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics. A fun fact about me is that I'm working on becoming fluent in Chinese. I plan to minor in Chinese while in college. I've always been fascinated by Chinese culture and am excited to share it with others. Outside of school I am a cheerleader and enjoy shopping and traveling! I'm super excited to be a part of SPARK!

Roland Yang – Computer Science

Hello! The name’s Roland. I’m from Aiken and I’m excited to be your computer science leader this year. I don’t have a favorite subject, but I am interested in a little bit of everything. In my free time, I like to swim, especially on my summer league team, and win. I also like the beach and the mountains, but my favorite thing to do is spend time with family and friends. My favorite food/drink is anything peach flavored. When I’m not swimming, I like to listen to music and read short stories, specifically, “The Metamorphosis” by Kafka.

Chris Ivey – Cyber Security

Hi, I’m Ivey, a Senior at SCGSSM! My favorite subjects at GSSM include math, chemistry, and robotics! I plan on attending college to major in nuclear engineering. My hobbies include listening to music, skating, wrestling, working out, and playing games! My favorite music artists now are Peach Pit and Elliot Smith. Additionally, I enjoy reading old books like The Brothers Karamazov. I’m really looking forward to meeting with and teaching all of you next year!

Elizabeth Aniello – Government & Economics

Hi, I’m Liz, a senior at GSSM! My favorite subjects include math, politics, history, and economics. I intend to major in Finance and International Relations, and I am excited to introduce you guys to the fascinating world of economics/government functions. A few of my hobbies include running, art, and dance! My favorite books include Life of Pi, The Book Thief, and Raisin in the Sun. I love Broadway and my favorite show is Moulin Rouge! I look forward to teaching you guys this year!

Abigail Bailey – Environmental Science

Hi! I’m Abi, and I’m a senior at GSSM. A fun fact about me is that I’m originally from Maine! My favorite color is orange, and my favorite movie is Raya and the Last Dragon. My favorite subjects in school are civil engineering and computer science, but I have a passion for environmental science (especially environmental engineering!) and I’m so excited to be able to share it with you! I plan to go to college for civil or environmental engineering because I want to help design sustainable options for cities and communities in the future. My hobbies include listening to music, writing, hiking, and watching documentaries or Disney movies. I can’t wait to meet you guys and teach you about environmental science this year!

Ryan Watford – Literature

Hello everyone, my name is Ryan. I am a senior here at GSSM. I really like English class as well as math. I am currently not entirely sure what I want to do when I graduate, but I am thinking about National Security or the Medical field. I am very excited to continue sharing with all of you the wonderful world of books and history. I really like to write poetry, explore mythology, read, play video games, and go on walks. I also love listening to music and podcasts. My favorite snack is Fruity Pebbles, and my favorite drink is Coca-Cola. I like to read fantasy books, but I also enjoy thrillers and romance as well. I look forward to teaching you all, can’t wait!

Anya Orlova – Marine Biology

Hello! I’m Anya and I am a senior at GSSM. I’ve been keeping fish for years and have two tanks with multiple species of both fish and invertebrates including shrimp! Marine biology and fish are insanely cool once you dig into it, and I couldn’t be more excited to teach you guys about them this year. My favorite subjects are Chemistry, Physics, and Biology, which were sparked (ha-ha, get it?) by my interest in fish, which sent me down a rabbit hole of various cycles and chemicals to learn more. My favorite animals are fish, crocodiles, and snow leopards. I love roller skating, gardening, drawing, eating cheese-flavored snacks, and hanging out with all 40 of my pet fish. My favorite movies are GATTACA, The Princess Bride, Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Can you tell that I’m obsessed with fish? Looking forward to meeting you all this year!

Patrick Li – Math

Hi! My name is Patrick, and I will be leading SPARK! Math this year! I am a senior at GSSM, but I am originally from Columbia, SC. I have always been interested in math and plan to major in it in college. I can’t wait to explore some of my personal favorite topics with you all this year! In my free time, I like to read, play the violin, and mindlessly watch TV for hours. My favorite ice cream flavor is coffee, though I don’t drink coffee often, and my favorite food is sushi. I can’t wait to meet you all this year as we explore the depths of math together!

Audrey Howard – Eastern Medicine

Hello! My name is Audrey Howard, and I am a senior at GSSM. This year I am so excited to have the opportunity to take a variety of medical related courses such as anatomy, neuroscience, as well as an independent study in traditional Chinese medicine. My interest in medicine started when I took a bio-med class at my school’s career center. After graduation, I am planning to attend pre-med college and then attend medical school! During school I play tennis, I am a cheerleader, and I am a member of the Future Physicians Club and National Honor Society. In my free time I love any outdoor activity, reading, and trying new foods! My favorite foods are pho, mango, and chocolate chip cookies. My favorite books are the Percy Jackson series, I know why the caged bird sings, and the catcher in the rye. I can’t wait to share my enthusiasm for medicine and biology through the eastern medicine course!

Layla Anderson –Western Medicine

Hi there! I’m Layla, a senior at GSSM. Some of my favorite subjects include genomics, anatomy, neuroscience, and etymology. In my free time, I like hands-on crafts like sewing and embroidering, making up games with my friends, and listening to music. Some of my favorite artists include Taylor Swift, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mallrat, Twenty One Pilots and Hozier. My favorite kinds of movies include spoof movies and racing movies. Some of my favorites include Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Airplane, Ford vs. Ferrari, and the Princess Bride. I am a sucker for sour candy, and my favorites books are Circe and Goddess in the Machine. I am so excited to teach everyone in SPARK! Medicine this year!

Julia Yang – Music

Hello! I’m Julia, and I will be leading Spark! Music this year. I am a senior at GSSM, and I’m from Fort Mill, SC. I love listening and playing music by myself and with my string quartet. A fun fact about myself is that I have been playing violin for 12+ years! My favorite genres of music include K-Pop, classical music, R&B, and others! My favorite subject is biology, and I hope to major in something biology related and minor in music. Music has always been a large part of my life growing up, and I have enjoyed sharing that passion in Spark! during my junior year. I look forward to teaching you guys this year!

Adam Towner – Physics

My name is Adam Towner and I look forward to teaching each of you this year! This is my senior year, and I will be studying Modern Physics, Optics, and Thermodynamics. In my free time I like playing tennis, reading books, and meditating. Physics piqued my interest after reading a book on fusion reactors, and I hope that I can share my passion with each of you. My favorite movie is Kung Fu Panda, my favorite book is The Anthropocene Reviewed. I also love listening to Orchestral Music. After graduation, I want to lobby for better education and more investment in nuclear energy. I know this will be a great year and I can not wait to give you a crash course on Physics.


Phoenix Zhao – Robotics

Hello, I’m Phoenix Zhao, and I’m a senior at GSSM! I’m interested in pursuing electrical and mechanical engineering. After college, I want to become a robotics engineer and build rovers to assist with space exploration. Outside of school, I love taking care of my plants, creating art, listening to music, skateboarding, and playing Roblox. My favorite shows are Gravity Falls, Amazing World of Gumball, and Over the Garden Wall. My Spotify has Malcom Todd, Luafey, and Still Woozy on repeat. I look forward to getting to know you all and learning together!

Grace Zhang- Sociology

Hello everyone! My name is Grace, and I am a senior at GSSM! I am currently interested in biology and psychology, but I plan on majoring in Neuroscience with a pre-med college path because the brain and its mysteries intrigue me. I am so excited to teach our upcoming SPARK! students about the components of sociology with its applications in the modern world this year. Some of my hobbies include competitive swimming, playing the piano, and baking cookies (specifically chocolate chip cookies). My favorite food is Caesar Salad, and my favorite ice cream flavor is mint chocolate chip. A fun fact about me is that I am an avid Potterhead and have reread the entire Harry Potter book series three times. I'm excited about the opportunity to teach you all this year!

Elijah Kassal – Spanish

Hello everyone! My name is Elijah, and I am a senior at GSSM. In college, I hope to major in quantum physics, but one of my greatest personal passions is linguistics and etymology! I speak both Spanish and Portuguese fluently, although I am not a native speaker of either language, I self-studied through formal education and immersion with native speakers (hispanohablantes). Some of my other hobbies include piano, photography, reading, and cooking. I have had a strong affinity for the arts since I was young, and am interested in the synthesis of both science and art. I look forward to teaching you guys this year!