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Video+Story: Andress Officially Launches International Baccalaureate Program

EPISD’s second International Baccalaureate program officially launched this week at Andress High School with an open house designed to show off the international coursework to parents and potential new students.

Andress showed off the progress it has made in the difficult task of developing an official International Baccalaureate (IB) program to a crowd of interested parents and students in the school’s library on Tuesday night.

Attendees spoke to teachers and current students about the challenging curriculum and the opportunities that can come from having an IB diploma upon high-school graduation.

“It sends a clear message to colleges and universities that you are a student who understands hard work and dedication,” said Ivan Rubio, a junior who is part of the first IB cohort at Andress. “Because IB is so well known throughout the world, having an IB diploma tells everyone that you’re ready for college and for any challenge that comes after that.”

About 40 students have tackled IB classes at Andress since the semester began in August.

The IB program is a world-class curriculum overseen by the International Baccalaureate group based in Geneva, Switzerland. Andress participates in the Diploma Programme of IB, which focuses on interdisciplinary teaching and learning in language and literature, language acquisition, social studies, sciences, math and the arts.

Thelma Phillips, the coordinator of the IB program at Andress, said students who take IB courses tend to be better prepared for college and have higher acceptance rates to top-tier universities.

“This is a program for students who are striving to excel and seek higher training and learning after high school,” she said. “And because they’re receiving an education that is world class and world recognized, they’re learning in a much more rigorous environment.”

Andress’ IB is open to all students in El Paso County, and already Phillips said several students from other school districts and charter schools have transferred into the Northeast school to participate in the program.

The creation of the program was meant to give more students access to high-quality educational programming. For about 20 years, the IB program at Coronado High School has attracted students from throughout the region, but distance has kept many students from enrolling there.

“I was supposed to go to Coronado for IB, but I live in the Northeast and I didn’t want to go across town for school,” said Dawsen Rystad, an Andress junior who is enrolled in the IB program. “I’m so happy that I get the opportunity here. It’s a great way to stay connected to my peers at Andress but still challenge myself academically.”

Students wishing to enroll in IB are required to submit an application, but Phillips said all students are admitted into the program.

“Our philosophy is that if a student wants to take on the challenge, she or he should be allowed to do so,” she said. “This is a life-changing opportunity, and we will work with any and all students to make sure they have the tools they need to be successful. That’s our charge.”

Story and photos by Gustavo Reveles Acosta – EPISD

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