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Booker T. Graduates Set School Record for IB Diplomas

The class of 2019 was a recording-setting one at Booker T. Washington High School. An impressive 49 seniors received their IB diploma, signifying that they fulfilled all the requirements and earned enough points on their exams to successfully complete the program.

“I thought last year’s class was pretty special. Their intelligences lied in so many different areas. When you get those perspectives, you do learn more,” said IB teacher Kelly McCracken.

IB, or International Baccalaureate, is a rigorous course of study offered to students across the globe and right here at Booker T. For 34 years, BTW students have had the option to participate in the program during their junior and senior year.

“The International Baccalaureate program was established in England as a way to help students across the globe achieve a level of academic excellence that would be universally accepted,” explained Craig Hoxie, who teaches IB science courses.

IB seek to prepare students for college by encouraging them to think critically, ask challenging questions, manage their time efficiently, develop strong research skills, and consider local and global contexts. IB diploma graduates go into their freshman year of college so well prepared that the first year is often a breeze. Plus, student can earn college credits with the IB exams like they can with AP courses.  

To earn the IB diploma, students must take six IB courses, with a minimum of three that are higher level (HL). Students also must take the interdisciplinary Theory of Knowledge (TOK) class. This unique 90-minute course takes place outside of school hours; dedicated students come in early or stay late twice a week for two years to complete the requirement.

“The big thing with Theory of Knowledge is it helps the students learn why they think the way they think. What is in their background that makes them think the way they think about things? How we approach the acquisition of knowledge, how we approached that historically, how we approach that within our own societies, how our society and our culture differs in the acquisition of knowledge from other society or another culture,” said Craig Hoxie. “That, to me, is probably the most important course we teach.”

In addition to the IB classes, students must write an extended essay on a topic of their choosing and fulfill the creativity, activity, and service requirement.

“The entire experience of doing the diploma is worth it,” said Craig.

“People get scared off by the idea that it is more work. It is, but it is a different kind of work,” said Kelly. “The process prepares you so well no matter what grade you get. If you get all Bs on an IB program, to colleges, you challenged yourself.”

The BTW Hornets had a 70 percent pass rate for their IB diploma exams in 2019 – a number that Craig thinks will continue to grow.

“These kids, generally speaking, are more global citizens. They just know a little more about other cultures and other ideas and other religions before they even start the program,” he said. “It’s going to start showing up a little more on these types of tests. The type of kid that is growing up nowadays is a little more aware and open.”

For more information on the International Baccalaureate diploma or the Middle Years Programme that precedes it for 9th and 10th graders, click here.