ATWATER — Buhach Colony High School is taking on a global perspective.
The high school on Buhach Road in Atwater is joining the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, a Swiss-based worldwide program that has its students thinking well beyond their local confines -- giving them an advantage over others in their future studies.
"Essentially IB challenges students to step outside their small world and apply knowledge and skills that go across all cultures and countries," Principal Stacy McAfee said. "It's a huge thing for our campus."
McAfee said ideally the school will get 30 to 40 students committed to undertaking the program in their junior and senior years. This fall, a group of freshmen and sophomores are preparing for the program, which they will take next year.
There are 2,062 schools worldwide in the IB program, which began in 1971.
Steve Hobbs, the school's assistant principal for guidance, said the international program is more student-centered than conventional instruction. It's the teacher's responsibility to design the IB courses.
"The teacher becomes more of a facilitator," Hobbs said. "This program is not for everybody; this is going to be some work. Students drive the instruction."
Buhach Colony students must complete all requirements for a Merced Union High School District-issued diploma. They will take six specific IB courses, including language A, language B, math, science, individuals in society, and electives, including a course titled "Theory of Knowledge."
All six subjects are connected and interrelated.
McAfee said the school will be applying for final authorization in March and will know by July if it has been accepted. IB representatives will be visiting the school March 4-5 and an IB world team will visit the campus this fall.
McAfee said Modesto High School has had the program for 20 years and it has been in effect at Fresno High for a decade. There is a three- to four-year application process before the program is fully authorized.
A global perspective
Teacher-librarian Julie Cook said she is developing a collection of international titles and textbooks for IB participants.
"I'm excited about the global-minded perspective," Cook said. "It works on growth of the whole student. A component of the program is community service and personal development."
The creativity, action and service component of the IB program involves 150 hours of community service in junior and senior years. IB participants must prepare an extensive 15-page, 4,000-word essay on a topic of their choice, which requires considerable research.
McAfee said IB students will have a different sequence of classes from other students. She confirmed that program requirements are very rigorous and will require a large commitment of time.
Hobbs said the theory of knowledge course spanning two years will force students to think and ask questions about issues with a worldwide perspective. He said it's an honor that Buhach Colony was selected to take part in the program.
IB students can get accepted at almost any college or university worldwide, McAfee said.
Twenty-four Buhach Colony staff members are on the IB team. Eleven of them will be going to Rice University in Texas on Feb. 25-27 for extended training.
McAfee said she already is being contacted by parents at the school and elsewhere who are interested in the IB program. Hobbs said the program will attract students from outside the high school district.
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.