by Cori Hilsgen
The first group of students to complete the International Baccalaureate Diploma program graduated from St. John’s Prep school this spring.
Eleven SJP students completed the full IB diploma program. All of the students are local students from St. Joseph, Avon, St. Cloud, Kimball, Collegeville, Pearl Lake and the Twin Cities. One IB graduate from the Twin Cities lived on campus.
Principal Matthew Reichert said this is a “remarkable” number of graduates since this is the first group of students who had the chance to complete the full program.
“We have about 20 students who will pursue the full diploma in next year’s senior class,” Reichert said.
The IB program is designed for college preparation. Students in the program are able to take single IB classes or they can earn a second diploma by taking a collection of classes in six different subject areas.
Reichert said the program is demanding and students are asked to participate in the work of their subject areas. He said this differs from Advance Placement classes where students often take multiple-choice exams.
“Students actually conduct scientific research, analyze musical compositions, create exhibits of their own artwork, write literary analysis, engage in service, and participate in extracurricular activities and athletics,” Reichert said.
One IB graduate felt the program was challenging but it taught good time-management skills.
“The IB diploma is very challenging,” Caz Novak said. “One of the best things I gained from it was a real understanding of how to manage my time and find balance. This is going to be a really important lesson for me as I move on to Boston College this fall.
Another graduate thought the IB diploma really helped prepare her for college.
“The IB diploma is hard, but the preparation you get for college makes it a worthwhile challenge,” Clare Culligan said. “After all of the research papers, essays, projects, experiments and activities I know I am ready for next year. It’s like I spent a year in college already. Some graduates get worried because they don’t know what to expect in college, but I think all of us are ready because we know what to expect.”
According to Reichert, the entire SJP graduating class is planning to attend a four-year college or university. Universities recognize IB as an exceptional course of study for students who seek admission to college-level study. Students who take IB exams are often given credit or requirements are waived by the colleges they attend.
“Some colleges and universities, such as Oxford University or Harvard College, will waive the entire first year of requirements for freshmen students who have successfully completed the IB diploma in high school,” Reichert said.
The IB graduates are planning to attend the following schools next year, St. John’s University, University of San Diego, University of California-Santa Barbara, Purdue University, Georgetown University, Boston College and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.
SJP is the only private high school in Minnesota that offers the IB program. A growing number of Catholic high schools now offer the program.
The IB program is not meant to be just for international students or students who wish to live abroad. The program is internationally benchmarked meaning the curriculum, content, skills and instruction are developed according to the most demanding college preparation programs around the world.
The majority of SJP students who take IB classes are from Central Minnesota or elsewhere in the United States.