Third Class is the Charm; IB adds to Curriculum

The high school IB program will introduce new options this year, including new classes and the IB Medallion.

The IB Medallion originated at Minneapolis Southwest High School, ranked in the top 100 IB schools worldwide. Seventy-three percent of its student body takes at least one IB course, and Newsweek recognized the school as the best high school in Minnesota.

“Their understanding was that some students couldn’t finish the full Diploma Program, but they wanted [the students] to finish IB in some form,IB Diploma Coordinator Tim Mitchell said. According to Mitchell, Minneapolis Southwest High School created the IB Medallion to solve this problem, and “somewhere between 60 and 70 of their students are doing [the IB Medallion].”

Shaker’s third IB class starts this year with 42 students planning to complete the full Diploma Program. The high school’s first IB class graduated last June. Eighteen of the 43 who enrolled as juniors earned the IB diploma.

Along with this year’s 42 juniors, 10 students plan to complete the IB Medallion, a school-sponsored option IB’s headquarters does not recognize.

The IB Medallion is an abbreviated version of the IB diploma program, requiring students to take three IB classes and complete the corresponding IB exams.

IB Medallion students also must complete the program’s community service element, known as Community Action Service, or CAS, which requires students to log 150 community service hours over their junior and senior years.

Along with allowing students to try a reduced version, the IB Medallion also provides a fall-back option for students deciding not to continue the diploma program.

In addition to the IB Medallion, Shaker has added new IB classes, leading to an increase in IB enrollment.  

“[Economics] hasn’t been available in previous years, and that was kind of a detrimental factor in the IB curriculum,” junior IB diploma candidate Patrick Pastore said. “Now it’s really opened the curriculum up for a lot more students.”

This is also the first year of IB Environmental Systems and Societies, an environmental science course with an emphasis on environmental legislation. Ninety-eight students are currently enrolled in this new class.

To accommodate the large number of juniors enrolled in the two IB options, the program created a second CAS coordinator position, exclusively for juniors. Guidance counselor and former middle school science teacher Shauna Bonner will act as the junior CAS coordinator, in addition to CAS Coordinator and guidance counselor Rene Manuel.

A version of this article appeared in print 3 October 2012 on page 3 of The Shakerite

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