Students enrolled in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Chippewa Secondary School have scored higher than the world average in three of four categories. This is the second full year for the program, and although the first year results surprised many people, don’t count Lucio Pavone, the school principal among them. “I was confident of the teaching abilities of our teachers and learning abilities of the students,” Pavone told Moose News. “So I wasn’t necessarily surprised but I was pleased with the outcome. We know at Chippewa that our students do well academically (locally), but now we know they do well academically world-wide”. Last year’s Grade 11 students were the school’s first group to take the world standard exam and those 37 students make up the Grade 12 IB program this year. The length of time for Chippewa to become authorized to offer the IB program was a long one. It was initiated by the Near North District School Board and the process began in 2012. The school wasn’t fully authorized to offer the program until December 2014 and the students who made up the 2015/16 class year were the first to enrol. The students take six courses in all and among them are science, language, social science and the arts. Pavone says Chippewa is one of only two high schools across Canada where the IB program includes dance and the school is now pursuing offering business as one of the courses. The advantage of taking the IB program for students is that when it’s time for them to enrol at a university, the post-secondary institution recognizes the grades of IB students.
That’s a tricky situation for students in North Bay whose parents are employed as executives in the mining sector and move to other countries because of the various positions they hold. The parents want to ensure that universities in the next country they move to will accept the academic achievements of their children and Pavone says the IB program guarantees this. Among parents in North Bay whose students are enrolled in the IB program are executives at Atlas Copco. In fact it was Copco that helped Chippewa put the program together several years ago when it was going through the authorization stage. Pavone says not only did Copco provide advice on setting up the program, the company also offers incentives to executives to move to cities that have an existing IB program. “So the program supports their ability to attract the kind of talent they wish to (have at) Atlas Copco, “Pavone said. “It’s a strong asset for Atlas Copco when trying to attract employees.” There’s another economic benefit to North Bay offering the IB program. When City Hall hits the streets trying to attract new businesses to the community, Pavone said one of the enticement tools is letting the potential business know that Chippewa offers the IB program. The IB program is not offered at many schools. Chippewa is the only school in North Bay, and after that one needs to drive to Sudbury and get the program at Lo Ellen Park Secondary School.