SEBRING - During a pinning ceremony Tuesday evening, 23 Sebring High School juniors were inducted into the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.
Though many will likely earn credit in some IB courses, actually earning an IB diploma is very challenging.
Out of 15 IB seniors in the Class of 2013 - the program's second graduating class - there were six IB diploma candidates and four ultimately received a diploma.
Sebring High IB coordinator Joanna Cochlin said they lost several students from that class, which started with about 40.
But the retention rate is improving, she said.
"We are particularly excited about the 100-percent pass rate in five classes and the significant numbers of 6s and 7s," she said, referring to the subject scores, which range from 1 to 7.
"I think it shows our curriculum has a good foundation," Cochlin said.
The IB Diploma program requires a full load of IB classes, an extended essay and completing 150 hours in a "Creativity, Action, Service" project.
Students can also choose to take a mix of IB, advanced placement and dual enrollment classes.
The school is trying to increase the number of students who graduate with an IB diploma.
Teachers have always been available for tutoring before and after school, Cochlin said.
"They [students] have always had an extra layer of academic support and coaching from me because I monitor their grades and pull them in and talk to them," Cochlin said.
She believes the students coming into the program now have a better idea of what to expect, and that in itself helps from the start.
The new IB students also are better prepared because they have been in advanced academics classes, starting in the third grade or earlier, Cochlin said.
Marcy Everest said her daughter, Lindsay, has been in Advanced Academics classes for most of her schooling and she is now going for the full IB diploma. Lindsay was one of the juniors inducted Tuesday.
The IB program and its curriculum is world-renowned, she said. Everest praised the efforts of the Sebring High IB teachers.
Lisa Collins' son, Ben, is a junior in the program.
The low number of students receiving an IB diploma has not discouraged her because she believes the program is growing.
"I would say it's growing; the first class was small and then a bigger second class and this is an even bigger third class," Collins said.
Her son has been able to balance the academic rigors of being in the IB program while being on the varsity football team.
"I think that is probably a fear of kids going into it, that they can't be in a sport and be in the IB program," Collins said. But her son has been able to do both successfully.
Sebring High's pre-IB program currently has 52 ninth-graders and 32 10th-graders. The IB program has 28 11th-graders and 14 12th-graders.
Of the 28 IB juniors, five are taking only some IB courses, while 23 are pursuing the full diploma.