This is the fifth year anniversary of the introduction of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme - or IB - to Cape Coral High School, a program administrators and faculty are celebrating.
"The IB program really has changed the culture of Cape Coral High School," said Principal Matt Mederios. "Because of its rigorous academic requirements, we now have a culture at Cape Coral High where academics are a priority for students."
The program has gained a tremendous momentum since its inception and especially in the last year.
"We now have 340 students that are in the IB program, up from 242 last year - that's fantastic," he said. "I think students are really taking an interest in their education and the benefits they will receive as part of this program."
Teacher Mike Cook leads the program at Cape High.
"IB is an incredible education that is globally recognized," Cook said. "As IB students, they will receive an education that is preparing them for the world of the 21st century. Our students develop proficiency in a second language, learn college level research, have the freedom to pursue individual interests while also becoming extremely well rounded academically. And with assessments that are written and spoken, students develop greater communication skills."
Prior to being offered here for the last five years, students who wanted to take advantage of this program had to drive into Fort Myers, he said.
"Our community needed a world class educational program offered for ourselves, and now we have something in which to take great pride," he said.
Some recent statistics/facts:
n Cape students passed 80 percent of IB offered in 2012.
n Students have the potential to receive up to 45 college credit hours upon completing the program
n The 3 core components of the IB program are: Theory of Knowledge, where students learn to think critically;
Extended Essay, where students are guided by a mentor as they develop and research an investigation into a topic of their own choice; and Creativity, Action, Service (CAS), where students reflect upon their own personal growth and involvement within the community.
It is not just that the kids are enrolled in an advanced academic program, Cook noted.
"These students are given the tools to succeed. Students in the IB program are varsity athletes, club and class presidents, and participate in a wide range of activities," he said. "Balance and time management is something that we help to develop. They are becoming better students, leaders, and people."
It is incredible to see what students have accomplished through the program, Cook said.
"When looking at the colleges that have accepted our kids, it is clear that the IB students from Cape Coral High School are a great investment for universities."
Several students provided letters stating what the program has meant to them.
"As far as academics go, I cannot stress enough how thoroughly the IB program at Cape High prepared me for life after high school," said Ashley Scarfo, CCHS class of 2010, in a letter to Gulf Middle School students going into high school.
"I transitioned much easier into college classes, and found a healthier balance of work and fun than many of my peers, thanks to my years of preparation at Cape High.
"My high school career allowed me to develop intellectually, personally and socially in ways that I could never have imagined when I stood in your shoes seven years ago," she continued. "Even though I always had potential, much as you do, my experiences at Cape Coral High School IB helped me to realize what was really possible. Whether your goal is local college, the potential to study abroad, admission to a prestigious university, or the military, Cape High offers the best opportunity for you to maximize this potential."
Mitchell Hoke, a Diplomat Middle School graduate now in the Boston University Class of 2013, wrote in a letter to local students: "For me, this program acted as a gateway to get to where I am now. I am currently a Philosophy & Linguistics major with a French minor at Boston University. I am graduating a year before my class and looking for job opportunities in places such as New York, Paris, Brussels and London."
"l'm a Trafalgar Middle alumnus, now attending the University of Miami, majoring in Psychology Pre-med," wrote Monica Bahamon, Cape Coral High School lB Class of 2010. "I would like to encourage you to to consider the lB program at Cape Coral High School. lB helped me grow in ways I never imagined, and made me see things from completely different perspectives. lt is a rigorous program that taught me the discipline I need to accomplish what I want to do. lB gave me the foundation I need to be successful in college, and opened doors to a lot of opportunities. lt helped me get accepted into the University of Miami, where recently I was able to meet and shake President Obama's hand."
Students and parents are encouraged to learn more about the program.
"On Monday, Dec. 3, we are hosting an IB Informational Night at 6 p.m. in the auditorium of Cape Coral High School for parents students to learn more," said Mederios.
Cape Coral High School is located at 2300 Santa Barbara Blvd. For information, call 574-6766.