Notre Dame Academy is seeking another option to prepare girls to be successful in college by applying to participate in the two-year International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.
The program offers advanced curriculum for high school juniors and seniors. Upon completion, they receive a diploma recognized by many colleges and universities.
"We have a long history in Toledo of being known as an academically strong school, and we're looking for things that would solidify and further that reputation," Notre Dame President Sister Mary Ann Culpert said.
As part of the program, students take advanced core subjects, including math, English, social studies, science, and foreign language.
There also are three requirements: a 4,000-word extended essay based on independent research, the interdisciplinary "Theory of Knowledge" course that teaches critical thinking skills, and the creativity, action, and service program that encourages extracurricular activity.
"It's recognized as the most rigorous curriculum that a high school student can take," Sister Mary Ann said of the diploma program.
Notre Dame Principal Kim Grilliot said the program fit well with the school's mission because it's not only college preparatory, but promotes cultural understanding, respect, and service. "There was a lot of crossover," she said.
The International Baccalaureate's program, which was established in 1968, has grown from 270 schools offering the diploma program 10 years ago to 751 now, said Alejandra Adan, marketing and communications associate manager for the International Baccalaureate North American Regional Office.
Toledo Public Schools' advanced course offerings became an issue in 2007 when the district selected a new superintendent.
The district's first choice for the job, William Harner, a Philadelphia schools official, turned it down, in part, because Toledo high schools didn't have advanced curriculum for his teenage daughter, who was in an international baccalaureate program in South Carolina.
In researching the program and schools that have it, Sister Mary Ann said some students told them they chose a particular school because they offered it.
"We would really be a hub for this area for this program because there is nobody else," she said.
There are 17 other schools in Ohio that have the international baccalaureate diploma program, but none is in northwest Ohio. Nine schools in Michigan offer it, with the closest about 80 miles away.
Notre Dame also would be the first religious-affiliated school and the first all-girls school in the Ohio to offer the diploma program.
But it's not there yet.
Notre Dame submitted the "interested schools" application late last week.
That's the first step in the authorization process, which can take two years or more. It includes an analysis of the of the school's philosophy, curriculum, and resources, and a visit to the school.
Notre Dame hopes to begin offering the program to students in the class of 2013 during their junior and senior years. Those students would enter as freshmen in the fall of 2009.
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