Shiloh pursuing IB diploma option

SNELLVILLE -- The International Baccalaureate program in Gwinnett might be expanding out of Norcross.

Members of the Gwinnett County Board of Education said they strongly support Shiloh High School in its quest to offer the IB diploma program. Norcross High is the only school in Gwinnett that offers the diploma.

The International Baccalaureate Organization is most known for its challenging diploma program, which is aimed at students in the final two years of high school. Diploma subjects take six academic courses and a class in the theory of knowledge, write a 4,000-word essay, and complete a number of service projects. To receive the diploma, students must also pass a series of rigorous tests.

"I am very appreciative that Shiloh High School is going to offer the second International Baccalaureate diploma program in Gwinnett County Public Schools," said Mary Kay Murphy, the chairwoman of the Gwinnett County Board of Education. "It is a tremendous program to boost student achievement, to continue students through high school graduation, and to prepare them for a global world in which they will need to succeed with skills gained in the IB program."

Before becoming an IB World School, a school must investigate the program and feasibility of implementation and apply to be a candidate school. In the candidate phase, a school implements the program guided by the regional office and submits a formal application. During this time, a site visit takes place. If the school is authorized, the program delivery will continue.

The IB Organization offers two other programs: the Primary Years Programme, which Peachtree Elementary started this year, and the Middle Years Programme, which is offered at Pinckneyville and Summerour middle schools.

The programs are designed to promote the education of the whole person, emphasizing intellectual, personal, emotional and social growth through all domains of knowledge, according to the organization's website.

The programs are offered at 3,050 schools in 139 countries.

"I think it's exciting and a wonderful opportunity for students in the Shiloh cluster," said Robert McClure, the school board member who represents Shiloh High. "I look forward to seeing that work out and hopefully becoming as successful as it is in Norcross."