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New Program For Woodrow Wilson Freshmen

Freshmen International Baccalaureate students
Freshmen International Baccalaureate students

By BJ Austin, KERA News

Dallas, TX – The first day of school was a first on many levels for more than 100 freshmen at Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas. KERA's BJ Austin says "Woodrow" launched the first "International Baccalaureate" program in the district.

There was understandable confusion in the hallways of Woodrow Wilson High School as incoming freshmen got class scheduled and tried to find the corresponding classrooms. And, logistics trumped learning for part of the first day of school. But that was NOT the case with the 112 freshmen who are the first students in Woodrow's pre-diploma International Baccalaureate program. They got to work immediately in Catherine Pate's classroom.

International Baccalaureate or I-B coordinator Kathy Scherler says the interdisciplinary curriculum will prepare these freshmen for the more rigorous two-year International Baccalaureate diploma program their junior and senior years.

Scherler: The curriculum for IB and our pre-IB courses is geared toward an international perspective. It gives them a global outlook on subjects they would normally be learning. This program will initially give them 24 hours of college credit.

That look toward the future is what attracted these 14 year old freshmen to the program.

Students: I thought it was a good program to learn about different things, events and my studies. I chose it because it looks like a good opportunity to get a head start, be more advanced and get more credit for college. I like being smart. Just to know that I can know a little bit more and I can go a little bit further than the rest makes be feel good. I want to be successful, too - take care of my family.

Woodrow Principal Ruth Vail says it's an honor for Woodrow to be the first school in the Dallas District to be an International Baccalaureate candidate. The official designation is expected in November after a site visit from the I-B committee. Principal Vail says it's taken two years of hard work to get launch the "pre-IB" program, and she's confident of final approval.

Vail: We want our kids to have the same challenging curriculum that's offered worldwide to the best students worldwide. And being a public school, it's a great, free opportunity for parents to enroll their kids.

That's just what Jennifer Rivas wants to do. She has an eighth grader who will go to Woodrow next fall.

Rivas: When you successfully complete the International Baccalaureate program you can go to any college in the world. When I read about it a couple of years ago, there were several people to go to Oxford, you know anywhere, or Yale, Harvard, stuff like that.

But the IB program is not limited to students within the Woodrow attendance boundaries. It's open to students, district wide. Principal Vail says there are two dozen students who applied, were accepted, and transferred into Woodrow - aiming to be among the first Dallas School District senior class to receive International Baccalaureate diplomas.

Email BJ Austin