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OCT.18- A group of Pal-Mac seniors recently took part in a new twist on an existing educational pledge toward their futures.

Students celebrated International Baccalaureate (IB) “Signing Day” on Oct.3. During the event, students registered for their IB exams and diplomas. But it was set up similar to how student-athletes sign their letters of intent to compete at a collegiate level.

The idea was the brainchild of Rebecca DeSol, who said the day is significant because it marks a student’s continued commitment to learning.

“Every morning, our principal Mr. Wahl starts our day off by reminding us that we come to school to learn, grow, and contribute,” DeSol said. “And by signing, our students are acknowledging that growth is an important part of their learning and that it will continue to be long after they leave high school. “

In addition to signing for their exams, students also submitted responses to a reflective survey, in which they shed light on the program, and their experiences within it,

IB is an international program of teaching and learning that produces learners, thinkers, and doers. Pal-Mac is a fully- recognized IB District, which means students take part in IB-related curriculum starting from their early years.

Students learn on an international level, as classes discuss the same concepts, literature, and skills that students in countries around the world are also learning. 

Throughout their time in the program, Pal-Mac students learn through inquiry (be curious, wonder, explore), action (take a risk, create, design), and reflection (how did it go? What did you learn? What would you do differently? how does it relate to...?)

Seniors are a part of what’s known as the “Diploma Programme,” which is geared towards students 16-19 years old. 

The majority of the classes are two years long. Courses are taught in a student’s junior and senior years as two separate courses for high school credit. Classes are taught by different teachers, but they equate to "one course" over two years.  For instance, what a student in 11th grade does carries over into 12th, and the students earn credit for one full IB course.

“It allows us to be more open-minded and they teach us different ways that we can learn and grow to therefore contribute to society kindly and openly.,” said Elizabeth, a Pal-Mac senior. 

Elizabeth, like several of the other students, signed up for multiple IB courses. Courses cover topics such as literature, history, and psychology, among other areas.

Each course has internal assessments (projects, presentations, experiments, essays)  at various points throughout the year. Most courses have exams that students sit for in May (except for Film and Visual Arts, wherein students submit a portfolio of their work).

Being an IB student can also increase their chances of college admission, should they choose that path.

Students' assessments are compiled into one overall score, and those scores potentially earn them university credit. Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC) offers credits, though students can earn AP credit in addition to their IB credit since IB is international.

“Being challenged gives me more room to grow and make connections between separate subjects,” said Marianna, another senior.

Some students reported the IB experience is mirroring what they can expect at the next level.

“They help me prepare a bit more for college and what the workload will be like,” said Graci. “And they also help me learn more in-depth about the subjects I'm studying and make me a better writer, or studier.”

Another Elizabeth in the class added the courses have 'pushed her out of her comfort zone,’ and helped her to think “outside the box.”

Reflecting on the first year of the signing event, DeSol says the hope is to continue with the effort in future years, though adjustments to its format are possible.

  • Palmyra-Macedon High School

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