Community Papers

A holistic approach to education

INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE STUDENTS explore their creativity in a visual art class. - PHOTO SUBMITTED
INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE STUDENTS explore their creativity in a visual art class.
— image credit: PHOTO SUBMITTED

The International Baccalaureate Program at Highland is getting ready for its second year, starting in September of 2013.

“Right now we are processing applications for current Grade 10 students who wish to be a part of the IB program in the fall,” states program co-ordinator Andrew Black.

“We welcome students from across the district and beyond and are anticipating our first international student this year. We have excellent candidates from Vanier and Isfeld, in addition to those from Highland.”

Fortunately, Highland still has some room for students interested in rising to the challenge of the academically rigorous IB Diploma. The attraction of honours-level courses in Grades 11 and 12, the possibility of earning first-year university or college credit, the focus on international and intercultural understanding, and the emphasis on personal growth are central to an IB education.

“An IB Diploma is recognized worldwide. A student who earns an IB diploma will be very well-prepared for his or her post-secondary studies,” states Highland principal Lyneita Swanson. “Studies consistently reveal that IB learners are better able to meet the academic challenges they will face at University or college.

"Their acceptance rates are higher, as are their retention rates and their grades. They are also eligible for generous IB-specific scholarships.”

But IB is not all about academics. It takes a holistic approach to education, emphasizing artistic, creative, and social growth.

“All IB Diploma students also complete the CAS component of the program,” explains Rob Grantham, Highland’s CAS co-ordinator. “CAS stands for Creativity, Action, and Service, and it engages students in creative endeavours, physical activities, and service to others. IB strives to create well-rounded, contributing citizens who are aware of the wider world and involved in making it a better place.”

IB students do not have to be geniuses. They do have to be motivated to succeed and curious about the world around them. A strong work ethic is crucial.

Students currently in Grade 9 can prepare for IB by taking honours courses in their Grade 10 year. Highland offers a full suite of Grade 10 honours courses, taught primarily by IB-trained teachers and designed to prepare students for the IB program. Taking French to the Grade 10 level is strongly recommended.

“Students in the Comox Valley have always had access to an excellent education. Having access to the world’s most recognized and respected academic credentials further enhances the educational opportunities of valley students,” says Black. “It’s difficult to understand the attraction of expensive private schools when such a program is offered locally.”

For more information or to register, please check out the IB program at Highland’s website ( or contact Andrew Black at

— Highland Secondary School

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