The International Baccalaureate (IB) program at East is one that draws many students to participate in what is a worldwide-recognized program. The only other schools in the Shawnee Mission School District (SMSD), as well as Johnson County, that offer IB classes are SM North and SM Northwest.
To earn a diploma for the program, students must take tests in six classes, write an independent research essay, complete 150 work hours and participate in a course called “Theory of Knowledge.”
The independent research essay is meant to be 3000 words and needs to fit a specific category. The most common topics are history, psychology, chemistry and biology. Each student must have a mentor, who is a teacher that teaches that teaches in the category they chose.
The required 150 hours of volunteer time can be active, service or creative, but you need at least 50 of each. The active hours is doing stuff like running or taking a dance class. The service hours must be face-to-face volunteering. The creative hours can be writing a poem, going camping or something like taking a voice lesson.
Theory of Knowledge is a class taken while other students are in seminar. The class promotes philosophical discussion and tries to connect to every subject. More than 300 East graduates have earned the IB diploma. A school must offer at least six IB classes for their students to get an IB diploma and also for them to be considered an IB school.
To make it through the program while playing a sport is a difficult task but some students manage all of the work. Junior Emily Chisholm managed the IB program this year while playing tennis, and is currently playing varsity soccer.
“It can definitely get challenging at times but throughout the year I have become a lot better at balancing everything,” Chisholm said. “It’s all about working ahead and not procrastinating!”
While the program takes a lot of time, many people find it worth it and find advantages in getting into college, as well as being prepared for college and life.
The program is used all over the world in schools and according to the SMSD website is “governed by the International Baccalaureate Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and administered by the International Baccalaureate Curriculum and Assessment Center in Cardiff, Wales.”
People have different opinions, AP and IB have a withstanding rivalry. They compete on whether partaking in the IB program or taking AP classes is better.