Friday, December 18, 2015

WAIS IB Graduates Implored to Change the World

Danielle Couch had a message for Westchester Academy of International Studies seniors working on their International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma: You can do this.

Spring Branch ISD Superintendent Scott Muri doubled down on Couch’s reassurance: Not only can you do this – you have to do this.

“Our world faces problems so complex that my generation and generations before it can’t figure them out,” he told WAIS IB graduates and students on Thursday, Dec. 17, at an IB graduation program. “We need you. We have yet to solve the complex problems of the world.”

Couch was one of 16 members of the WAIS class of 2015 to earn the IB diploma, recognized around the world for its academic rigor and assessment. A freshman at Trinity University in San Antonio, Couch told seniors that the IB experience helped her hold deeper conversations with peers and to develop and express strong opinions in class.

WAIS offers the IB Diploma Programme and the IB Career-related Programme for grades 11 and 12, and the IB Middle Years Programme for grades 6-10. Only schools authorized by the International Baccalaureate Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, can offer IB programming.

Most students at WAIS are involved in IB in some way. WAIS, a district public charter school, draws students from across the district through a choice application process that typically involves a lottery as applicants outnumber available seats.

School Director Jennifer Collier told the IB students that they’re on a journey.

“The work is hard and difficult,” she said, “but the work is important. It has value.”

She said that the WAIS class of 2015 has the largest number of students ever in college, a testament to both the students and the “amazing” faculty at the campus.

Returning graduates who completed the IB Diploma Programme, sat on the auditorium stage Thursday with seniors, who were also recognized during the program.

Couch told the assembly that as a sophomore four years ago, she sat in the audience looking at the seniors on the stage while thinking that they were “untouchable” – that she would never reach that place. The junior IB year “kicked my butt,” she said, and although by her senior year she was beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel, she began “devaluing” the IB diploma as something she didn’t need and might never accomplish.

So when she opened the electronic document that contained her exam scores, she laughed. She laughed, she said, because she was so wrong – not only could she get the IB diploma but she was excited to get it.

“I’m one of the untouchable few,” she said. “I can do this.”

Muri reiterated the value of the IB diploma in an uncertain world, one in which he said his Thursday morninig started at 5 a.m. in response to terroristic threats to large school systems across the country.

“You’ll have a credential like no other,” said Muri. “Yes, it’s a piece of paper, but it carries with it a lot of blood, sweat and tears. And it carries with it a lot of promise.”

“You make a choice and you were selected to be here,” he said. “You must do this – not only for yourselves but for all of us.”


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