Pens hastily scribbled names and good wishes on the pages of several-thousand-page bound books, containing 4,000-word essays by eight Rifle High School students, as parents, family, friends and teachers looked on.
The extended essays were researched and written by the students in the school’s International Baccalaureate program, all of whom will receive the first diplomas from the two-year old program at the Saturday, May 24, graduation ceremony for the Class of 2014. The school received approval to offer the program on March 23, 2012.
The eight students are Alyx Carter, Karen Garcia, Teig Hauer, Nicholas Kosht, Catherine Lozano, Sarah McCutchan, Joseph Reyelts and Micah Ziegler.
Carter, who’s essay was titled “The sinking of the RMS Titanic and the new and revised International Maritime laws that followed in effect,” said she read books on the Titanic as a child and had always been interested in the subject.
“I kind of procrastinated, so it took about a month and a half, off and on,” she said of how long her essay took to research and write.
Carter said the IB program allowed her to work toward being better prepared for the challenges ahead in college and hopefully avoid some difficulties.
Reyelts’ essay was titled “Jazz and drug use,” and he wanted to explore the topic because he had always had an interest in jazz.
“Some people said they thought drugs helped jazz musicians create better songs,” Reyelts explained. “I disagreed and used historical references to show it didn’t.”
Reyelts added he was “to stubborn to quit” the program once he got into it and thinks it will definitely help him get into a college.
Other extended essay subjects included McCutchan’s “How did J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis’s ideas about evangelism, fairy stories and their friendship with each other influence their uses of literary techniques in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’? and Lozano’s “Investigation on the extent to which poverty is a factor on the causes and effects of child mistreatment.”
Extended essay coordinator David Ziegler said yearly presentations on the IB program are given to eighth graders at Rifle Middle School and those students are urged to apply for the honors program in their freshman and sophomore years. Students must also have a number of teacher recommendations, show the ability to work hard and want to further their education.
“But it was never intended for what you might call the ‘elite’ student or the super smart,” Ziegler said. “It’s more a holistic program than just academic.”
However, Ziegler said of the eight students, two are class co-valedictorians and others are among the school’s top 20 percent in grade point average.
Ziegler called the results “some pretty amazing essays and work.”
“The program really prepares them for the kind of rigor and research many of them will be doing in college,” he said. “It helps communicate ideas and form an argument on the topic.”
Students chose their topics either because they were interested and enjoyed it, or might have been something they didn’t have a lot of background on, Ziegler said. And requirements are strictly followed – if an essay is longer than 4,000 words, the examiner will stop reading at 4,000.
“And that can disqualify a paper,” Ziegler stated.
A student will spend an average of about 40 hours working on their essay, he said.
Essays are scored on 12 components, Ziegler explained, including introduction, investigation, knowledge and understanding and making a reasoned argument.
The points are combined with points from the students’ theory of knowledge and creativity, action and service core requirements to earn a letter grade. Diplomas are awarded to students who earn at least 24 points, with the essays accounting for up to three points of that total.
Ziegler said copies of all eight essays will be kept in the school library and each student will take home a signed copy.
“Some people said they thought drugs helped jazz musicians create better songs. I disagreed, and used historical references to show it didn’t.”
RHS IB graduate-to-be