Rifle High School marks first year of being an IB school | PostIndependent.com

Rifle High School marks first year of being an IB school

Theresa Hamilton
Garfield Re-2 School District
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Contributed photoRifle High School IB students Cathy Lozano and Bailey Hoffmeister work on the microscope in Erin Reider's IB Biology class.

RIFLE, Colorado – Rifle High School junior Allie Cain will be the first to admit that the newly developed International Baccalaureate program at her school is not for everyone. However, if life skills and quality education are what students are seeking, it’s a good place to start.

“It is not necessarily for students who want to get the best grade,” said Cain. “But I like putting my heart into the learning and getting the most out of my education, even if it means getting a less than perfect grade.”

In the spring of 2012, Rifle High School became the 33rd school in Colorado and the third on the Western Slope to offer an International Baccalaureate program. Sixteen students are currently part of the junior class that will receive the first IB diplomas from Rifle High School in 2014.

The International Baccalaureate diploma program involves two years of intensive, college-level coursework in math, science, language and literature, foreign language, social studies and the arts in a student’s junior and senior years of high school.

Students must combine those courses with 150 hours of community service, a 4,000-word essay and a philosophy-like course, Theory of Knowledge, in order to earn an IB diploma. An IB diploma can be worth up to 24 credit hours when an IB graduate enrolls in college.

All 16 students prepared for the IB program by completing a ninth- and 10th-grade honors program. The honors program is not required, but highly recommended to prepare students for the rigor of the IB program.

“I entered the IB program because I thought of all the benefits that it could provide me for college,” said RHS junior Micah Ziegler. “As a whole, I have not felt completely overwhelmed. I feel prepared, and I feel like I can get through it.”

However, the program reaches further than those 16 students, said Rifle High’s IB Coordinator Brad Skinner. Many students are taking individual IB classes to earn the credits.

“We have kids who don’t want to do a diploma but have an interest in a specific area. They can take individual IB classes,” said Skinner. “They recognize that this will help them in college.”

Currently, there are about 75 non-IB diploma students taking individual IB classes in addition to the 16 diploma students, and another 63 students are moving through the ninth- and 10th-grade honors preparatory program.

Skinner said in addition to the academic rigor that the IB program provides, students gain important life skills from the program.

“The IB program is excellent preparation for college. You have to learn time management skills, and learn how to focus on study skills,” he explained.

That is where Ziegler admittedly is challenged.

“I’m not the best time manager,” he laughed. “The first few weeks has made me aware of what I’m getting into for the next two years and for college,” he explained.

Because Rifle High School is a relatively small school, all of the IB instructors teach non-IB classes as well. This, said Skinner, means that nearly every student at Rifle High School will benefit from the IB program.

“Whether you are in the IB program or not, you are getting a solid education. Students will still be prepared for college or career. The teaching strategies that the IB instructors have learned will transfer to their other classes as well,” he explained.

Both Ziegler and Cain feel that the IB program will prepare them for their futures after Rifle High School. Ziegler would like to major in theater and business and participate in the ROTC for the Navy. Cain is undecided but has strong interests in art and civil engineering.

“The International Baccalaureate program is such an amazing opportunity to help students with college and life skills,” said Cain. “I know it will prepare me for whatever is ahead.”

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