In 2014, Alcuin School launched its upper school to extend its Montessori and International Baccalaureate (IB) education.
This August, the school entered a new academic year after celebrating a 100 percent pass rate of its 2017-2018 International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme by Alcuin’s inaugural graduating class.
(TOP, FROM LEFT: Class of 2018 students Caroline Silver, Toyosi Ayanwola, Aliya Swanger, and Arath Luna work together during science lab. Photo courtesy Alcuin)
“The best term I can use is transformational, in terms of what it’s done for the school and the exposure it’s given us to the community as a whole,” said Alcuin head of school Walter Sorensen.
Before the upper school opened in 2014, Alcuin only ran through the eighth grade, and then students would have to choose somewhere else to go for high school. The upper school allows students to work toward an IB diploma.
To earn an IB diploma, students are required to take six IB courses, score at least 24 points on cumulative exams, write a 4,000-word extended essay, pass a theory and knowledge class, and demonstrate a two-year commitment to creativity, activity, and science.
Although obtaining an IB diploma requires a more rigorous workload, the payoff comes when it’s time for students to ascend to the next level.
Alcuin’s graduating class of 10 students earned an average of $100,000 in scholarships per student and more than $1 million collectively.
“Even if [students] do not receive an IB diploma, they will still receive additional scholarship dollars just for going through an IB program,” Sorensen said.
Carla Meadows, Alcuin’s director of marketing, said her daughter, who was a part of the inaugural graduating class, choose to pursue an IB diploma because of the benefits she could gain from it.
Meadows’ daughter was admitted to American University and will enroll in the school of international service, which ranks in the top 10 in the nation in both master’s and undergraduate programs.
“When we went to go look at different schools last year, when we went on our college trip to visit, I was particularly, as a parent, struck about how IB is received on college campuses across the board,” Meadows said. “Talking to not only college professors but also college students, all of them really impressed me because they shared how the IB curriculum in high school really helped benefit them as they got into college.”
Alcuin’s upper school has 54 students enrolled for the fall, including seven seniors, and officials expect to see continued growth.
In the future, Sorensen said Alcuin would limit class sizes to 40-45 students per grade. By doing so, Sorensen hopes the faculty can keep better tabs on students and be better equipped to support those in need.
“It’s been, of course, a challenge, because IB was not well known a few years ago, and we’re still breaking ground on making sure people know what it’s all about,” Sorensen said. “Clearly at the level that we’re offering it here is sort of the highest level you can offer IB. So we’re in a unique position to have students come here and be recognized for that.”