A blog advocating autism through my own personal experiences and insights.

The IB Program

I thought I would take this opportunity to share with you a letter. Back when I was in high school I took a challenging opportunity to pursue the IB program (International Baccalaureate). In case you don’t know what that is, it is a special international high school program that really prepares one for university and is recognised by many universities in the world. Sadly, however, the IB program at my high school Sydney Academy is considering closing it. My fellow IB alumni and me are rallying together and have created a facebook group dedicated to keeping the IB program at Sydney Academy. We are also sending out letters. I have sent out the following letter to various people: including the CBVRSB (Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board), the principal at Sydney Academy, the CBC radio station, various MLAs and the local newspaper there the Cape Breton Post. I’d just like to share it on here to express my dedication to this wonderful program.

Dear CBVRSB Board Members,

My name is J.C. Saunders and as a Sydney Academy High School Alumnus, I have been informed that you are seriously considering cutting out the IB program at Sydney Academy. I was very disappointed to hear this and think this is a bad idea for a variety of reasons. I graduated from Sydney Academy in June 2007 from the IB program and have since moved on and have completed a joint honours degree in mathematics and philosophy at Acadia University, which I graduated from last spring. I feel that the experience that I’ve gained from the IB program has made a huge positive impact on me.

Let me explain. I found the IB program to be incredibly tough and competitive. I will admit it wasn’t all fun. My grades suffered a bit, and I was often overwhelmed with work. I count myself very lucky that Sydney Academy has such great teachers who actually helped me through it. In particular, I would like to draw your attention to Ms. Janet Beaton and Mr. Barry Halloran who I took IB history and theory of knowledge from respectively. Even though he is no longer teaching there, I would also like to mention Mr. Bob Crane who taught IB math and calculus at Sydney Academy until a few years ago who recognised my strengths and potential. These teachers were full of energy and always managed to keep me motivated. I owe a lot to such fine instructors.

Ever since graduating from the IB program, it has contributed to my successes tremendously. In particular, when I entered Acadia University, I quickly saw how such a challenge as the IB program was paying off. While I saw other students struggling to get at least descent marks in some of their courses, I saw a great improvement in my own marks. After a mere first semester at Acadia, my average went up by at least 12% and it stayed that way throughout the rest of my time there. From being a Sydney Academy IB student who got mediocre marks, I became one of Acadia’s top math students. Professors in other departments also took notice of me when I was still in first year. Due to the number of essays that the IB program required me to write, I had really honed in on my writing skills, which very much pleased a philosophy professor I had in first year. I even managed to write all ten essays that were assigned in an English course I took, even though I was only required to write four and really gained respect from my English professor because of my work ethic. In short, the IB program really prepared me for going to university.

If you take away the IB program, you will not be allowing other students the opportunity to rise to the challenge that it poses. More students will be come to university ill-prepared. On the other hand, if you keep it in place, more students will gain a valuable work ethic and find university not such a huge transition. I leave it up to you to decide how you want to proceed. I just want you to be aware that whatever action you decide to take, you will be sending a message to students. If you keep the IB program in place, you will be saying that taking on a challenge is good and helps to improve oneself. If you take IB away from Sydney Academy, your message will be that taking extra challenges in education and in life in general is unnecessary and too much of a bother. I wish you luck in making your decision.

Yours sincerely, J.C. Saunders.

BSC (Honours) Mathematics with Philosophy 2011 Acadia University

MMath Pure Mathematics 2013 (Expected) University of Waterloo

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