Suffolk’s first IB cohort receives diplomas

Published 9:51 pm Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Members of Suffolk Public School’s first graduating International Baccalaureate class pose for the camera at King’s Fork High School last month. One graduate, Nicole Tsetsalis, is absent from the photo. The IB program started in Suffolk four years ago, and the first class earned a diploma pass rate very close to the international average.

Suffolk Public Schools’ first cohort of International Baccalaureate students has achieved a diploma pass rate almost on par with the international average.

Of the 16 students who took part in the 2012 International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme at King’s Fork High School, 12, or 75 percent, qualified for the honor, according to the district’s supervisor for advanced instruction, Carol Kennedy-Dickens.

The IB program operates in 141 countries, and the worldwide 2012 pass rate was 78.16 percent, its website says.


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Kennedy-Dickens was pleased with how the Suffolk pioneers measured up. “Because we are neophytes, it’s very good,” she said.

The Suffolk students who did not qualify missed out by only a single point or a little more, she added.

“The students who missed getting full diplomas, they’re still going to get the benefit” of being well prepared for college, she continued.

Around the world, 119,000 students received IB diplomas or course results in 2012, up by over 8,000 from 2011.

The Suffolk students earned diplomas after “outstanding achievements” in comprehensive IB examinations, a school district press release stated.

They completed six college-level subjects, a course in theory of knowledge, community service work, and a research paper.

Coursework over a two-year period in grades 11 and 12 was combined with May test scores for the students to obtain a minimum of 24 points or above.

“While every student in their IB class will benefit from the preparation for college, these students will have achieved a remarkable personal goal, obtained by only approximately six percent of the nation’s top scholars,” the release stated.

The 16 IB students earned more than $1.6 million in scholarships, and will also use their earned points for advanced college standing and/or college credit.

Diploma winners and their chosen college or university are: Thomas Byrd, Virginia Tech; Sharon Farrell, Virginia Tech; Ethan Gould, University of Virginia; Trevor Hall, North Carolina State University; Heather Harcum, Virginia Tech; Craig Hardman, the College of William & Mary; Ashanti Nixon, Virginia Tech; Richard Parks, Virginia Tech; Andrew Stockman, Christopher Newport University; Ravynn Stringfield, University of Virginia; Nicole Tsetsilas, Virginia Tech; and Elena Vitullo, Seton Hall.

Stringfield stated in an email, “My mother and father always told me no one can take your knowledge away, but I have to admit, it’s still nice to have something to show for what you know.”

Her IB diploma will give him an edge “in almost everything in the academic field, not to mention (that) gives us a very well rounded look that many schools want in their students.”