Parkland principal Lizanne Chicanot stands with some prospective IB students during the lunch break. (Hugo Wong/News Staff)

Parkland offers IB program this fall

Beginning Sept. 2018, Parkland Secondary School is slated to be the first public school on southern Vancouver Island to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) program.

According to Principal Lizanne Chicanot, student surveys revealed they were looking for more academic challenges. So after a two-year candidacy phase, Parkland will start offering the IB program in the fall, pending final confirmation from IB World in about a month.

“There’s been a lot of momentum and a lot of interest,” said Chicanot. “I’ve been getting a lot of phone calls and the teachers are really pumped and excited because they’ve put a lot of work into this.”

School District 63 (Saanich) Superintendent Dave Eberwein said he expects Parkland to receive the go-ahead.

The full IB Diploma program requires six courses over Grades 11 and 12. Subjects include English, French, math, art, social studies (history, geography, psychology) and science (chemistry, physics, biology, computer science). The IB also requires three additional components: Theory of Knowledge (an introductory philosophy course on epistemology — how people learn and know); a 4,000-word Extended Essay comparable in length to a university-level academic paper; and Creativity, Activity and Service, a self-directed project where students devise a project for the community that ties into the student’s passions. Many universities will provide credit for IB courses, allowing students to skip certain first-year courses.

If students do not want to take the full six courses, they can take individual IB courses and fill the rest with conventional courses.

To join Parkland’s IB program, applicants submit a recent report card, academic reference, personal statement and resume. Prospective students need a minimum B average, good time management and should be “prepared to work,” said Chicanot.

“It’s not intended to be an elite program where only a few gifted students will do it … it’s supposed to be attainable for the vast majority of students. But they have to want to do it, dive in and sink their teeth into it.”

There is also a fee associated with exams, though the District has agreed to pay the yearly IB licensing fees. The precise fee structure for families is still being decided. The application form says no student will be turned away for lack of funds.

A few nearby Grade 10 students said they were excited and prepared to work.

“We’re probably going to have to cut out at least one thing. For instance, I might have to quit my job, but I think it’ll be worthwhile because of the future,” said student Tyesha Miggitsch.

Chicanot is expecting about 30 or more incoming students to take the IB program in addition to internal applicants, but the number of applications will determine the size of the program and what courses will be available. Eberwein said that the goal was “not necessarily to pull from other schools, but to help define the Parkland community.”

There is an info session on Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. where parents can ask questions of teachers.

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