Campus High School is launching its IB diploma program

02/28/2013 2:40 PM

02/28/2013 2:40 PM

Haysville school officials say a new International Baccalaureate diploma program will benefit students at Campus High School and could be an added draw for the district.

“We’re all very excited because it’s been a three-year process to get it done,” said Liz Hames, spokeswoman for the Haysville district, just south of Wichita.

“It’s an extremely rigorous academic program, and not everybody is going to be interested,” she said. “But we know there will be a lot of interest.”

Campus High School administrators learned recently that the school met the requirements to be an IB school. They plan to enroll their first class of 40 to 50 juniors into the prestigious college preparatory program this fall.

There are about 3,300 IB schools around the world and about 1,300 in the U.S.

Campus High is only the second high school in the Wichita area to offer the diploma program. East High School in Wichita and Hutchinson High School also offer it; the state’s other five programs are in Topeka and Kansas City.

Joe Sailors, an assistant principal at Campus and coordinator of the IB program there, said the school hopes to “keep our enrollment pretty open.”

If students are interested, “we want to give them a shot, as long as they’re clear about the commitment and the goals of the program and … there are no huge red flags,” he said.

Only schools authorized by the International Baccalaureate organization in Geneva, Switzerland, may offer the IB curriculum and allow their students to sit for IB examinations in hopes of earning an IB diploma. Students follow a prescribed course of study in six disciplines and fulfill additional requirements such as community service, an extended essay and a two-semester course on critical thinking.

Sailors said freshmen and sophomores at Campus who express an interest in the program will be placed in advanced-level classes designed to prepare them for the rigors of IB. But for now, there is no standardized entrance exam or restricted “pre-IB” program, as there is at East High.

At East, which has offered the IB diploma program for more than 20 years, the program has grown so popular that hundreds of eighth-graders apply each year by taking a standardized entrance exam. They are evaluated based on grades, extracurricular activities, test scores and teacher evaluations. Between 120 and 125 are accepted into the pre-IB program.

Sailors said he expects Haysville’s IB program to start smaller but grow. And it could draw students from outside the district.

Since 2009, the Haysville district has accepted a limited number of students from outside its geographic boundaries. Families interested in out-of-district enrollment can get more information by calling Debbie Coleman at 316-554-2200.

“It’s going to be so beneficial for our students, just learning those skills you need when you go off to college,” said Hames, the district spokeswoman.

Sailors said the program also may have a trickle-down effect on other classes at Campus High.

“The initial feeling is, ‘This is for a select group of kids,’ ” he said. “But the more our teachers learn about the program, the more they like it and the more they see the type of learner the program is trying to develop.”

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