St. Dominic High students bring awareness to school’s IB program

POSTED: 11/3/14 7:45 PM

St. Maarten – “The world is changing. We knew CXC was not enough. We should be able to offer our students more,” said Magda Angad Gaur, Career Counselor at St. Dominic High, with regards to the school’s International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program, which is a demanding two-year curriculum leading to final examinations and a qualification that is recognized by leading universities worldwide, instituted in 2010.  The program’s mission is to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. In order to offer St. Dominic students the best education possible and provide them with a head start in university, school management began the process of looking for different pre-university programs in 2008. “Our main concern was to offer our students a program that would give them a global perspective that would educate the child holistically and, at the same time, be internationally recognized.  After examining various systems, we thought the best product we could offer was the IB program,” explained Marie Richardson, Diploma Program Coordinator and Assistant School Manager.

“The IB program is something I could use to expand my mind further than I ever thought I could,” said Tatia Brunings, a seventeen-year-old student in the first year of the program (IB 1), who wants to become a lawyer. A large part of the program is research-oriented, which encourages students to work and think independently of their teachers. “The teachers, of course, are there to guide you and answer questions about various concepts, but, ultimately, they want you to be engaged with one another,” said the St. Dominic High Student.

She went on to explain that, primarily, students do their own research, come back to class and then discuss their findings with one another. It is a way for students to exchange and share new information on their own. “They do push independent learning. There is so much information out there that you can research for yourself… it’s about inquiring and being inquisitive about a topic.” When asked if she would recommend the program to other students, Brunings responded, “If you want to be able to rationalize and think outside of the box and see internal change in yourself, then I would say ‘Do IB.’ The change is inescapable. You will automatically see a change in yourself… you begin to appreciate the intellectual levels.”

Luna Emogene – a second year IB student, who, in addition to her studies, works as a medical assistant at Mercuur Medical Clinic, tutors part-time and liaises with a pediatrician at SMMC – said that the program has taught her the importance of time management. “Because in IB you have so many different assignments and activities to do, you have to learn how best to use your time.” One of those activities, she pointed out, is the Community Action Service (CAS), where students do volunteer work in the community. However, unlike regular volunteer work, students are required to reflect on the experience to see how it has benefited them and how they have grown from it. “In these 2 extra years I have grown personally… I have become more independent,” said Emogene, as she reflected on her IB experience.

What interested her in the program was that it is recognized globally among universities: “IB is also a program that is recognized around the world, so when I go abroad to university and say I have done it, I will have recognition.” The IB program, she explained, gives insight into college and university life, in particular with regards to the workload and how teachers interact with you. Emogene’s goal is to become a pediatrician.

Suaad Mohammed, a graduate of St. Maarten Academy, started St. Dominic’s pre-university program after hearing positive reactions from students who were enrolled in the program and others who had graduated from it. “They said it was challenging,” explained Mohammed, “and I like to take on challenges… I have a die-hard attitude, and I like to keep on trying and never give up, which is why I choose to do IB.” Like Luna Emogene, Mohammad aspires to become a pediatrician. When asked how the program will help her achieve this goal, she said, “It gives a higher level of the sciences I did when I was in high school.” She went on to say that in other curriculums and program, you, as a student, are “spoon fed” the information, whereas with the IB program, students are encouraged to think critically and independently. “It gives you an independent drive and helps you make your own decisions.”

“I wanted to join program because it sounded privileged,” admitted Franz Tapia Chaca, who is now in his second year of the program. Initially, Tapia Chaca had applied to the United World College in Maastricht, the Netherlands; however, after failing to pass the interview round of the admissions process, he realized “I wasn’t open enough and needed to grow more… I decided to take the program, so I can grow through it. It’s very advantageous in terms of maturity.” With a love for science and an affinity for building things, Tapia Chaca wants to become a biomedical engineer. “The IB classes are tough,” he explained, “and I think they are about the same level as university, so when I will get there, I will have a head start when studying biomedical engineering.”

When asked if he would recommend the program to other students, Tapia Chaca, responded positively, saying, “I recommend it for all students to take, because it’s a program that forces you, in positive way, to grow, as long as you let it. I have been letting it pressure me to grow, so I’m open minded about the things I learn and perceive, and through this, I grow. It helps students to mature, and it gives them a preview of how tough university can be. In university the workload is tough, but here it is tough as well… IB is a very good foundation for university.”

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