Dalton High School officials outline International Baccalaureate program improvements

Dalton High School created a role for a media/research specialist who helps students with exams and extended essays, as a trained research specialist is a requirement for International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme certification, and Alecia Hagberg, who teaches Advanced Placement chemistry at Dalton High, is leading a study skills course to prepare students for the rigor of IB and college, said Principal Stephanie Hungerpiller, who is pictured.

As Dalton High School seeks to distinguish itself not only in its own school system — Dalton Public Schools added a second high school of choice, The Dalton Academy, this school year — but also in the region and state, the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme is a critical piece of the school’s academic rigor and reputation.

As of the 2020-21 school year, the closest other Georgia high school also offering this program was North Atlanta High School, said Marybeth Meadows, Dalton High’s IB coordinator. Dalton High currently has a dozen IB diploma candidates in their first or second years.

“It’s a very unique and great opportunity for our students,” said Matt Evans, chairman of the Dalton Board of Education.

Many other students take IB courses as juniors or seniors, as students can take IB courses without seeking the diploma, Meadows said. The school continues to add new courses based on student interest.

Dalton High staff and administrators also completed a study of which IB courses had the highest failure rates and lowest exam scores and made staffing changes, said Principal Stephanie Hungerpiller. Administrators created a role for a media/research specialist who helps students with exams and extended essays, as a trained research specialist is a requirement for IB certification.

Additionally, Alecia Hagberg, who teaches Advanced Placement chemistry at Dalton High, is leading a study skills course to prepare students for the rigor of IB and college, Hungerpiller told the Dalton Board of Education members during Monday’s meeting. Furthermore, “we’re increasing publicity and marketing of IB through social media, the school website and a video.”

The IB Diploma Programme has helped Sadie Cowan “keep up at a top research college,” the 2019 Dalton High graduate now at Boston University said in the video. Her writing skills grew greatly due to IB, and she’d be “a lot worse off” in college without that experience.

College visits for Dalton High’s IB students to Emory and Georgia Tech are scheduled for March or April, Meadows said. In addition, overseas trips are planned “post-COVID” for IB students studying History of the Americas and Foreign Language.

The IB program is a comprehensive and rigorous two-year curriculum for high school students beginning in their junior year, according to Dalton High. The diploma program requires an integrated study in six subject areas, a 4,000-word thesis of original research, the Theory of Knowledge course and what is called Creativity, Action and Service to the community.

IB graduates are more than 20% more likely to be admitted into 10 of the most prestigious universities in the U.S., including Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford, according to Dalton Public Schools. The designation is also recognized globally by universities and employers.

School board roles

Also during Monday’s meeting, the school board members voted 5-0 to keep Evans as board chairman, Palmer Griffin as vice chairman and Tulley Johnson as treasurer for another year. Evans and Griffin were reelected to second terms on the board in November, while Johnson has been on the board for more than two decades.

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