Where Are We Now: An Update on the International Baccalaureate Programme At SSS

During the 2010-2011 school year, administration and teacher leaders at Smithfield-Selma High School (SSS) began working on the candidacy application to become an IB World School. As they discussed bringing the IB Diploma Programme to SSS, they knew it would be a program that would grow, offering opportunities to students all around Johnston County.

Growth of the Diploma Programme

On March 28th, 2013, SSS received official authorization to begin teaching the IB Diploma Programme (IB DP) to juniors for the 2013-14 school year. The Programme at SSS began with 6 stellar students (see below for updates on their post-SSS journey). These students were enrolled in 7 IB level courses, which continued for the 2 years they were in the programme. These courses include IB HL English Literature, IB Ab Initio Spanish, IB HL History of the Americas, IB SL Environmental Science, IB SL Mathematics,  IB HL Art, and IB Theory of Knowledge. The students also had to complete a Creativity, Activity and Service Project.  Some of these Service Projects included starting a SSS food pantry, building a Habitat for Humanity house, assisting middle school students with athletics, and volunteering around the community. Finally, they each had to write a 4,000 word Extended Essay on a topic of their choosing. This all culminated in their IB exams in May 2015.

The first IB graduating class from SSS.  Left to Right: Emma Lampe, Ashton Makey, Daniel Avila, IB Advisor Cynthia Hutchings, Ina Colon, Sarah Wieland, and Emma Szczesiul.

Since this class of students graduated, there have been 4 other classes of graduates, and the 9th class of IB DP students began their journey in August 2019. The programme has continued to grow, with the largest class to date, 60 students (chosen from 165 applicants), enrolled for the fall. In addition, the IB course offerings have expanded and now include two levels of IB Spanish, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, three levels of Mathematics, and Psychology. In addition to full Diploma Candidates, the IB DP courses have now been opened to students who wish to take individual courses to supplement the rigor of the high school course load. This has led to the implementation of the dual AVID/ IB track which allows students to gain the benefits of both options available at SSS.

As for the stats, the five graduating classes (89 students) of IB students from SSS have been offered over 6 million dollars in scholarships. They currently are enrolled in colleges and universities in North Carolina and across the nation, including Arizona State University, Cornell University, Duke University, East Carolina University, Georgia State University, Meredith College, NC State, Pace University, Smith College, UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Rochester UNC- Wilmington, Wake Forest University, and many others.  While they are broadening their knowledge, they are also continuing to serve their University communities through community service, leadership in clubs/ organizations, and internships. In addition, many IB students have used the flexibility in their schedules (due to earned credits from the IB DP) to travel/ study abroad.

The First Class
In June 2015, the first class of IB Diploma Candidates graduated from SSS and began their next adventures in life. In the last four years, they have each traveled a different path, but here is where they are now:

Daniel Avila – In August 2019, he graduated from Appalachian State University with a Bachelor degree in Computer Information systems. While at App State, Daniel started as a member of the Varsity Men’s Soccer Team. He attended App State on athletics and STEM Scholarships. He was also involved in the video game development club during his studies. Even before graduating, Daniel was offered a job at NC Fidelity Investments as a software engineer intern. Upon graduating, he has continued his work with the company.

Ina Colon – Through her hard work and commitment to her education, Ina was able to graduate early from Appalachian State University in December 2018 with a Bachelors of Science in Broadcast Communication with a minor in Spanish. While at App State, she served as the President of the National Pan-Hellenic Council and the Omicron Kappa Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. She also studied abroad in China for three weeks during her 2018 summer break, continuing to develop international mindedness. Following graduation, she enrolled in graduate school at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. She is pursuing an MBA while working as a graduate assistant for the Honors Program. “IB taught me how to believe in myself when I’m being challenged whether it be academically or personally and how to be intentional when maintaining old friendships.”

Emma Lampe – After beginning her college career at NC State, Emma, a free-spirited young lady, decided to take a gap year and figure out what her goals were for the future. During this time, she worked at a small business doing accounting work, traveled to Tokyo, Japan to visit a friend she met while attending SSS, and decided to apply for a transfer to Meredith college. She will be graduating from Meredith in December 2020 with a BA in Communications, concentrating in mass communications and public relations, with a minor in professional writing and presentation media. She is involved in the Meredith student government, serving as the chair of the elections board.

Ashton Makey – While attending UNC-Chapel Hill, Ashton was a 4-year member of the all-girl competitive cheerleading team, holding a leadership position for 2 of those years. She graduated in May 2019 from UNC Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Political Science and a B.A. in Communication Studies, concentrating on Interpersonal and Organizational Communication. Since graduation, she has moved back to Smithfield, where she is working for Old Mill Stream, Inc. as the office administrator/manager. During this time, she is studying for the LSATs with plans to apply to and enroll in law school as a member of the Fall 2020 incoming class. Ashton notes, “As hard as IB was, I truly believe I would not have been prepared for what college brought if I would not have done it. For me, it wasn’t about getting credit for classes, although that didn’t hurt, however, I feel I was benefited in a much more tangible way by being prepared for the workload, the style of college learning, and time management skills that college requires. I can, without a doubt, point to the IB DP as the reason I felt so prepared for those things, and I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to have been part of the first graduating class from the program at SSS!”

Emma Szczesiul – In May 2019, Emma graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a Bachelors in Environmental Studies with minors in Information Science and Spanish. While at UNC-CH, Emma completed a Capstone Project while researching in the Outer Banks in the local town hall. She was able to gain experience for post-graduation. She also continued developing her international mindedness while studying abroad in Costa Rica. Before graduating, she completed an internship for UNC’s Sustainability Initiative. Emma is currently living in Chicago working as an Environmental Health and Safety Information Technology Consultant for ERM, one of the world’s largest environmental consulting firms.

Sarah Wieland – After graduation from SSS, Sarah attended East Carolina University. While in school, she was a member of Beta Gamma Sigma (The Business Honors Society) and The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP). As a member of these organizations, Sarah was selected to be part of the Future Leaders Program as one of two top seniors in her class. She continued with the IB mindset of service by participating in philanthropies including: Pitt County animal shelter, the Arthritis Foundation, Pirate Academic Success Center as an economics tutor, and ECU Writes pen pal program. After completing her junior year, Sarah worked as an intern for QVC, where she gained experience in distribution operations. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in May 2019 from East Carolina University with a Bachelors in Business Administration with dual concentrations in Marketing and Supply Chain Management. She also received a Certificate in Professional Selling. Sarah now lives in Columbia, SC where she works with Border States Electric as a distribution leadership trainee, participating in a rotational program and traveling about the country.

Growth of the International Baccalaureate Programme in the SSS Feeder Pattern

During the 2017-2018 school year and after exploring and researching the Primary Years Program (PYP), South Smithfield Elementary received approval from the Board of Education to begin their journey toward becoming an IB PYP World School. Concurrently, SSS had a plan of its own as well: to introduce the Career-related Program (CP) to students who were completing CTE pathways for graduation. In the spring of 2018, more schools from the SSS feeder pattern researched the Primary Years and the Middle Years Programs (PYP and MYP). In total, four schools applied for candidacy in May 2018 to offer five new programs: PYP at South Smithfield Elementary (SSES) and Wilson’s Mills Elementary (WMES), MYP at Smithfield Middle School, and MYP and CP at Smithfield-Selma High School. As PYP candidate schools, SSES and WMES must complete at least one year of implementation of the IB PYP curriculum before they apply for authorization. A similar plan is in place for the MYP candidate schools. By 2022-2023, the SSS feeder pattern schools hope to be authorized to serve students in this K-12 district as authorized IB World Schools.

IB students at the Inaugural IB Banquet.  Counter Clockwise: Emma Szczesiul, Dorothy Colon, Ina Colon, Daniel Avila, Ashton Makey, Ariana Wieland, Sarah Wieland, and Emma Lampe.

IB student Emma Lampe cutting the Cake at the Inaugural IB Banquet.

Cake from the Inaugural IB Banquet, held in May each year.

Contributed article