Tag Archives: International Baccalaureate

Why I Chose the IB Program


Teacher Kathy Rodgers helps with a class assignment.

by Bea Feichtenbiner ’19

When I was about twelve, I started thinking about college. I was not sure of much, but I knew I wanted to go far, possibly even outside the country. My mom has a few friends who live in California and the school their kids go to offers the International Baccalaureate diploma. I first heard of it over the phone when I was in seventh grade. I looked it up and was drawn into the information I found.

The idea of having six subjects and having an equal balance in each interested me. At first, I worried about the arts, but I figured out that I could double in a subject to replace it. After thinking about it for a couple of months, I talked to my mom about my findings. I was really interested in getting this diploma. I was convinced it would make me a better student and wanted the opportunity to engage in this deeper level thinking.

She gave me the green light to go ahead and research schools. That’s actually how I found George School. When I got here, I was not sure what would happen. I did not know if I would change my mind and drop the IB idea. But two years later, I am a likely IB candidate. I plan to take two standard level exams, Spanish and Economics, and four higher level exams, English, Latin, Math, and Biology. The rest of my classes are a sprinkling of APs. I am doubling in language and not taking an art.

I know this is going to be very difficult, but I am prepared. The IB diploma is something I have been working towards for three years now. I love the thought of learning to think critically. I am anxious for a chance to write essays of deeper level thinking. I want to learn, but I don’t want to focus in one subject. I want to be a well-rounded academic and I feel like IB offers me more resources to do that.

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Filed under A Day in the Life, Student Work, Students, The Curious George

Reflections on Service in Arizona

by Gabrielle ’17

I love working with kids. Always have. But teaching children who are struggling terribly in school is a bit harder than I imagined. Let me give you a picture: a group of students going into third grade next who can barely add or subtract, who struggle with basic reading skills, and who consistently score 33 percent or less on assignments. The worst part: they have little to no work ethic, or believe, as one told me, the work is impossible to do. The teacher I am helping, Mr. Cly, explained that the issue stemmed from the home where parents or grandparents did not hold children responsible for helping around the house or for their schoolwork.  Continue reading

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Three TEDxGeorgeSchool Speakers Announced

by Ralph Lelii, IB coordinator and English teacher

A few years ago, I read a biography of Darwin. It was long and exhaustive, and I learned a great deal, but what I took away that sticks is this simple theory. Species that survive are not necessarily the strongest, or the smartest, as is often asserted by politicians in the heat of the campaign trail, but the species that is most adaptive to the environment it inherits and shapes. If I were stranded on an island alone with a jaguar, there is no doubt who would adapt and survive, even though I can quote a certain amount of Shakespeare verbatim, even some Yeats, and the cat cannot. Continue reading

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Summer Service Trips Prepare to Depart

This year George School students will be participating in a number of service trips throughout the world. This spring trips traveled to France, Mississippi, Nicaragua, South Africa, and Washington, DC. In just a few days several more groups will embark on their trips to Arizona, China, and Cuba. More information about each trip is below.

Summer 2016

June 5–23, 2016
Students work as teachers’ aides in the Kayenta Elementary School located in the Navajo Nation of Arizona. Homestays with local families provide the opportunity to experience the daily life and culture in the Navajo Nation. After-school activities for George School students might include horseback riding through Monument Valley, camping out on the Black Mesa, or rafting down the Colorado River.

June 5–26, 2016
The service project in Yangzhou China will focus on both service and Mandarin Chinese language. Students will stay with Chinese host families that have a student who attends Yangzhou high school, the leading high school in Yangzhou. Students will attend some classes with their hosts and attend culture classes. Service projects will be at a migrant workers’ children’s school, a special needs school, and an orphanage.

June 8–23, 2016
George School students will help in the major reconstruction of a church in Holguin. Plans also include working in an urban hydroponic garden and visiting a community orphanage and a school for the blind and deaf. Students may visit the city of Santiago, the Quaker community in Gibara, the historic town of Bayamo, and the beach at Guardalavaca.

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On the Occasion of Nancy’s Retirement


Nancy and Jack Starmer pose at the end of an All-School Assembly in honor of Nancy.

Below is the transcript of a speech given by Ralph Lelii, International Baccalaureate (IB) program director, English teacher, and Theory of Knowledge teacher at the All-Alumni Gathering celebrating Nancy Starmer during Alumni Weekend. 

Welcome Friends.

I am grateful for this opportunity to speak to you on the occasion of Nancy Starmer’s retirement. Standing here before you in May of my thirtieth year of service, I am struck by how time has tempered the faces of so many friends and former students and colleagues. Men and women I knew as adolescents sit before me today with the wizened faces of professionals, artists, and parents, the youthful and dreamy countenances of their youth replaced by more mature and thoughtful visages. It is at once striking and miraculous to see how time records its ineffable movement on these fragile bodies of ours. Most of all, though, I am struck by how, after three decades, I alone among us all seem to have remained utterly unchanged. It is quite remarkable. Continue reading

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La Manana de Verano

Johvanny ’16 writes:

This morning I was awakened by the combined sounds of a crowing rooster and blaring Spanish music from a neighboring house.  Since I woke up earlier than usual, I decided to help my host mom with the household chores she does every morning before she walked me to breakfast at Rafaela´s. 

After we finished breakfast, a class of primary students from La Nicaragüita arrived to escort us to school, but they were ten minutes earlier than usual.  Instead of their normal school uniforms, they were dressed in casual play and beach clothes, which reminded me that today is La Manana de Verano (The Summer Morning) at the school.  As we paired up for our walk to school, some of the older students brought additional tables and chairs to the house in preparation for today´s special lunch with the teachers. Continue reading

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An Outing to a Local Park in South Africa

From Erin:

Since 2001 Rod Robinson has come on every South Africa service trip. He was a GS parent and former board member. He and I were discussing this year’s trip last fall when he died unexpectedly in November. His sons raised money in a memorial fund for us to use while here. Continue reading

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Life Lessons in DC

by Hunter ’16

As part of our experience with YSOP, we heard from Alan, a formerly homeless man who once had a life to which many would aspire. Alan’s story was inspiring, but the most important thing that Alan told us was that homeless people need to be treated like humans. Of course, I have always known this; however, I get caught up in the discomfort that homeless people can sometimes bring me. This discomfort denies them their right to be treated like humans. Alan told us that his best moment as a homeless person occurred when a woman asked him his name and took the time to talk to him. I felt horrible after hearing this. I realized how humiliating it must be to be ignored by person after person, when all you are trying to do is simply survive. I realized that I need to treat homeless people better. I wouldn’t ignore any of my peers or teachers, so there is no reason I should ignore a homeless person when they ask me how I am or ask me for a dollar. 

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First full day in South Africa

We had a very full but also wonderful first day. We started the day at the District Six Museum which commemorates what once was a culturally diverse and economically vibrant neighborhood at the base of Table Mountain. In 1961, under the Group Areas Act of the apartheid government, the residents of that area were forcibly removed and the community demolished as a sheer act of power. Our guide was 22 at the time and his family was displaced. After lunch we took the cable car up Table Mountain. By then the fog had lifted and we were treated to some spectacular views. Continue reading

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Redefining Racism: MLK Day at George School

by Chloe ’16 

All white people are racist.

That was the trending topic on campus during the eventful 2016 MLK Day. As part of the day the entire student body came together to watch a radical documentary called I’m Not Racist… Am I?” Continue reading

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