Week #40: Greatest Accomplishment.
I took a risk in eighth grade. There was a new program that had just started at one of Chesapeake’s high schools, called International Baccalaureate (IB). The program coordinator, Mrs. Ingersoll, and two of the ninth-grade students came to Jolliff Middle to tell us about it, and how to apply.
I remember being so excited that I couldn’t stop talking about it.
I completed my application, took several tests at Oscar Smith (and left my purse, school ID, and house key there by accident! I got it back, but I had to call the school on my own and explain what happened), and crossed my fingers.
I still remember the day I found out I was accepted. Mrs. Lyons, the guidance counselor, showed up during orchestra class. I nearly screamed in the hallway when she told me the good news. I wanted to call my parents, although they already knew. I felt like I was on cloud nine.
My euphoria was shattered a bit when several of my friends were very upset that I was leaving. I was excited for the challenge – New school, new friends, new ways of learning and thinking – but I was also sad. I leaving everything behind, except for my house and my parents, for something new. I was basically alone on the giant school bus – No one else from the Western Branch area was in the program when I started in 2003.
Despite begging my parents to go back to Western Branch probably every week for the first six months of my freshman year, I persisted. I struggled immensely, especially in the very beginning. At first, I had D’s and E’s on a lot of quizzes, and a even a few tests. I went to so many tutoring sessions, my head spun. My test anxiety was through the roof. I cried quite a bit. Everything was hard!
However, being part of IB was completely worth it. It isn’t for everybody, but it ended up being a really good fit for me. I enjoyed myself – It fostered my life-long love for learning (with the exception of math). Plus, I learned to think critically, and challenge myself to do better and understand the concepts presented before me. There wasn’t a lot of memorizing or teaching to the SOLs, although we still had to take them!
Learning that I would receive my IB Diploma in 2007 was one of the big shining moments in my life. I felt a sense of massive accomplishment – Two years of prep work, and two years of application of the prep work paid off, in spades. Although the IB exams were immensely stressful, I wasn’t alone. There were 40 of my peers taking them with me, and our teachers did their best to prepare us for all of them. We all celebrated at the end of exams with a massive party!
I learned so much about myself during my high school years, and I truly believe IB made me a better person. I started off college in a better place, and I did really well at Longwood due to being in IB. I didn’t have to take as many gen ed classes! I was able to get math and science completely out of the way by the end of my first year, and then I was able to focus on the classes I truly enjoyed – Creative writing, history, and communications.
Back in June, a good number of us got together for a 10-year reunion. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, reminiscing about our experiences from 2003 through 2007, while also catching up on our careers, aspirations, marriages, children, and hobbies. I’m excited to see what happens when we plan our 20-year reunion.
Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂