Thursday, May 17, 2012

From classical music to fantasy novel, students think outside the box

From classical music to fantasy novel, students think outside the box
Program • International Baccalaureate aims to develop a peaceful world.
Courtesy Carol Lindsay Gemma Clark displays an enlarged cover of her 25-chapter fantasy novel and Tyler Bayn displays his alien skull painting, both projects for their International Baccalaureate project.
A Bach performance, an oil painting of an alien skull, environmentally friendly green houses, artist, writers and a television series pilot.
The diverse group of projects were presented by Clearfield High School 10th graders as part of their graduation from the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme.
Students in seventh through ninth grade at Syracuse Junior High and 10th graders at Clearfield High School were honored on May 1.
Syracuse is the only junior high in Davis County that offers the program.
One of the tangible benefits for students who graduate with an IB is they are able to graduate high school with 30 college credits earned. Students who enroll in concurrent Advance Placement can graduate with twice the credits.
Tenth grade students enrolled in program’s fifth level presented projects at the awards presentation. Many of the projects were the culmination of years of work.
Next year, the students will enter the High School IB program.
Rebecca Reed, Middle Years Programme coordinator, sees the program as a tool to help students focus on their futures and have a global perspective of the world.
“Our kids learn to think outside of the little box they are in,” she said. “They learn to think for themselves and how to apply what they’ve learned.”
Paulette Hopfenbeck, the diploma coordinator for Clearfield High School, believes the program helps students learn how to ask questions. The program is self selective, so students choose to join the program. While Hopfenbeck describes her students as high achievers, she says it’s not necessarily because they are the brightest students, but rather are the hardest workers.
When students from local junior high schools enter Clearfield High School, the IB programme becomes a melting pot of successful students. Hopfenbeck enjoys teaching the students.
“We mix in a lot of our other high achievers, and they are learning how to analyze and ask questions,” she said. “They are familiar with the requirements. They don’t moan as much because they are used to work and in-depth studies.”
Tyler Bayn, 15, said the program has made a big difference in his life.
“This program has made me outgoing. I would probably be the kid in the corner not talking without it. It got me out of my comfort zone,” he said.
Tyler’s mother, Laura, agrees that the program has benefited her son. “It has helped him discover his strengths and weaknesses as a student,” she said. “He is more aware of how he learns and where he needs to study more.”
The projects presented at graduation were chosen totally by interest of the students giving them the opportunity to explore subjects they want to learn more about.
Gemma Clark wrote a 25-chapter fantasy novel based on the Chinese five elements, fire, earth, metal, water and wood.
“The IB program has been most of my life the past year or so because I’ve either been working on my book or one of the other assignments,” she said. “It has definitely made a difference in my life — I’ve learned to prioritize discipline.”

© 2012 The Salt Lake Tribune
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