The International Baccalaureate does it differently. If most high school students the world over get their graduation diplomas the spring of their senior year, in the IB they’re still slaving over coursework in spring and taking end-of-year exams that aren’t graded until summer. The actual IB diplomas aren’t printed until late fall, and handed out in early winter, when the students have already put in their first college semester. Monday afternoon, Flagler County’s IB students, their first college semester already history, returned to their home school—Flagler Palm Coast High School—for their very own diploma ceremony. It was an exclusive rather than small affair: nothing is ever small in IB, but almost everything is exceptional.
As high school graduates go, these are the very best: International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma and certificate recipients who for two years labored at FPC through the salt-mine regimen of the district’s most demanding academic program. Not just the district’s: they don’t call it the International Baccalaureate for nothing. These 32 students, 18 of whom got the full IB diploma, went up against peers across borders, time zones and cultures, and proved just as good, and in a few cases, better.
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The 2010 IB class had the highest overall individual scores in the history of the seven-year-old program, including the single-highest individual achievement—Anthony deAugustino, last spring’s valedictorian, who earned 33 out of a possible 45 points. Three students were close behind with scores of 32, 31 and 30. “It shows that we have a strong bunch and that we hope they can be the bellwether for future scores and future results,” IB Program Director Roger Tangney said.
Different in every sense, the IB scores itself differently, too: it’s on a scale of 1 to 7, rather than 1 to 4. Sevens are particularly rare. There’s been three of those in the IB class of 2011 so far (two in Spanish, one in biology, under the tutelage of the unforgiving Jim Pignatiello, FPC’s current teacher of the year.) Several IB candidates missed the diploma by a single point, bumping them down to certificate level.
All 32 IB recipients are in college, at the following institutions: 14 at the University of Florida, four at the University of Central Florida, three at Stetson, two at Florida State, two at Florida Atlantic, and one each at Brandeis, Georgia Tech, New York University, Northwestern, the University of South Florida, Spellman, and Wesleyan. A majority were at the ceremony Monday, held at the school’s Bistro, with FPC Principal Jacob Oliva and school board members Trevor Tucker and John Fischer handing out the diplomas as IB Program Director Roger Tangney read the names.
There were no speeches: too late for that. Or tears: students usually shed them aplenty during their salt-mine days. But afterward several students spoke of the advantages they took to college by having gone through the IB program first.
“When you’re off to college you have to learn to balance your time with all of the social things that go on, or just with your studying habits, and really being in the IB program helped me to formulate that early on,” deAugustino, a chemical engineering major at the University of Florida, said. “This semester I’ve kind of stuck to what I’ve done throughout high school—just being diligent and study and work hard. That’s paid off already.” One of his tougher adjustments wasn’t what you’d expect: “Not being able to use a calculator in math.” That’s allowed here in Flagler. It isn’t at UF. Not even in calculus.
For Mia Pagliaricci, a freshman at Northwestern University majoring in cognitive science—she’s on a pre-med track—it’s pretty simple: “If I wouldn’t have gone through IB, I wouldn’t have survived at Northwestern. Plain and simple, I just would not have survived, because even with the IB background and experience I still have to try really hard, I’m still fighting to stay afloat. I’ve talked to other people that go to state schools, other schools, they’ve told me that their classes are easier than IB. My classes are most definitely not easier than IB. They’re so much harder, and they make IB seem so easy. But everybody I go to school with comes from the top of their class. You get there and you think you’re smart, and then everybody is smart. You’re kind of are just one in the crowd.” This from a student who managed straight A’s in the IB program while working a more than full-time job, putting in seven-hour shifts as a server six days a week after school. (Last spring Pagliaricci was the winner of the Flagler County Scholarship Pageant’s essay contest. Read her essay here.)
Tangney took a quartet of students toward an autumnal tree (the closest thing that makes the campus look like a New England Ivy league school, he said) and video in hand, asked them to speak of their experiences in and beyond the IB program. The reel will be used as motivation for future students, either to draft them into the program or to keep them from bailing out. IB programs everywhere notoriously have a high abandonment rate (don’t call them drop-outs: they may leave the IB, but they hardly ever leave school), though year after year FPC (which also draws on students who would have otherwise been attending Matanzas High School) has been increasing its IB graduation rate. This year’s freshman class, in pre-IB, registered 54 students, the largest class yet.
For those still grinding on, here’s a piece of advice from Audrey Gabbert, a University of Florida freshman in chemical engineering: “Don’t procrastinate. It’s the hardest. It’s something we all do. But by the time the exams are around there’s really no time to make up all the work you’ve lost to procrastination.”
And a valedictory from Megan Cash, who’s attending Wesleyan University in Connecticut on a full scholarship: “I knew going in to college that whenever I had to handle an overwhelming issue, academic or otherwise, I could handle it; therefore, the IB program made me a stronger student and a stronger person. Participating in the IB program also dramatically improved my writing, and therefore, the IB program gave me confidence in writing scholarship essays and filling out college applications. To the students who are considering joining the IB program, I would advise not being afraid to step out of your comfort zone and to know that it’s okay to not always receive straight-A’s. As long as you are trying your absolute best to understand the material and are truly learning, don’t beat yourself up about not receiving perfect grades; in the long run, you’ll feel more accomplished that you challenged yourself.”
International Baccalaureate: The Class of 2010 Survivors
|Gwendolyn Brown||Jordan Bryant||Megan Cash|
|Anthony DeAugustino||Audrey Gabbert||Andre Gaboriau|
|Casey Groth||Kayla Groth||Sarah Hanrahan|
|Ashley Hawes||Devin Johnson||Garrett Johnston|
|Parin Majewski||Ralston Mateo||Mia Pagliaricci|
|Vincent Scerbo||Lori Simmonds||Taylor Tofal|
|Vadim Belinskiy||Jeremy Goldberg||Stephanie Gopal|
|Luke Hayslip||Rakeiya Hinson||Gabrielle Jackson|
|Jaron Lowe||Amanda Marcusky||Iyawna McCall|
|Aisha Muneer||Katherine Rivera||Riva Ryan|
|Pedro Vasconcellos||Olena Vlasyuk|