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Granite Bay High School launches state’s first IB Career Certificate program

Aims to make students college and career ready
By: Sena Christian, Staff Reporter
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On a recent fall afternoon, students in Granite Bay High School’s International Baccalaureate film class perused through online lessons, as their teacher walked around to provide assistance when needed.

“It’s teaching them to learn on their own by doing tutorials,” said teacher Zachary Weidkamp. “It’s like throwing all the tools in Home Depot at them and saying build something. It teaches them how to teach themselves and to go about finding their own answers to things.”

Senior Tommy Gabriel said students are tasked with making a five-minute-long film. They wrote their own scripts and will do the marketing, storyboarding, filming and editing through May.

“I took the class for a better understanding of film and a better appreciation of film,” Gabriel said. “This is a good opportunity to expand my knowledge. It’s comparable to an (Advanced Placement) class in terms of rigor and demands.”

This self-directed approach to learning is fundamental to International Baccalaureate, a prestigious, international program that encourages critical thinking and prepares students for life in a global society.

Granite Bay High School has offered the IB Diploma program since 2008, and this fall the campus became the first in California to offer the new IB Career Certificate, according to Principal Mike McGuire. The school is one of only a handful to provide this program worldwide.

While the first round of students won’t be able to earn the certificate until next year — they need two years and must be seniors to complete the requirements — some are on the pathway, taking the needed classes.

“Right now, it’s still the best kept secret in the world,” McGuire said.

The Switzerland-based International Baccalaureate foundation began in 1968 in response to the educational needs of diplomats’ children who moved around the world. IB developed a centralized organization and uniform curriculum.

IB has a reputation as being elitist, McGuire said, so the foundation developed a career certificate program that focuses on technical experience to make students college and career ready.

Two years ago, Roseville Joint Union High School District began considering if either Granite Bay or Oakmont high school — both are IB schools — could accommodate the career certificate program together.

“We concluded it’s a great plan but (logistically) it can’t be done,” McGuire said.

But Granite Bay’s staff realized they could do it themselves. They already have IB World Languages and all they needed is an Approach to Learning course. ATL, as it’s called, focuses on critical thinking. Students must identify an ethical dilemma — such as whether it’s OK to genetically modify food — do a reflective project, which is submitted to an international committee.

To earn an IB Career Certificate, students must take two IB classes, an ATL course junior and senior year, and demonstrate proficiency in a second language, which can’t be their native tongue. The school currently offices IB Film for the certificate program and will soon offer IB Business and Management

“Film is really interesting and I’m more of a theater kid and film and theater go hand-in-hand,” said senior Tomasina Tallerico who is in the IB Film class. “Working with this technology is a really great asset to have.”