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Published: Monday, 2/9/2009

Central becomes first Catholic school in state to offer prestigious program

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Central Catholic High School is the first Catholic school in Ohio to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.

And it is the first in the area to have the two-year advanced curriculum program that is widely recognized by colleges and universities.

"We're really elated because we truly believe it's going to enhance our education, but this is a real feather in the cap for Central Catholic and really the city of Toledo," the school's president, the Rev. Dennis Hartigan, said.

The school recently found out it was designated an international baccalaureate world school after a nearly two-year process that includes application, evaluation, and a site visit by an international baccalaureate team, which came to Central Catholic in December.

The high school submitted its original application in the fall of 2007.

Central Catholic will begin offering the program next school year, and current sophomores will have the option to apply this spring, said Marie Arter, Central Catholic's director of curriculum.

Students in the program will take advanced courses in areas including math, English, social studies, science, and foreign language.

The program requires an independent research project with a 4,000-word essay, an interdisciplinary critical-thinking "Theory of Knowledge" course, and a creativity, action, and service program for extracurricular activity.

The two-year curriculum is geared toward students ages 16 to 19.

"The students have to be prepared because it is a rigorous curriculum - it's intense and it's very focused," Father Hartigan said.

Eighteen schools in Ohio offer the program, and Central Catholic is the first Catholic high school to do so, said Alejandra Adan, marketing and communications manager for the International Baccalaureate North American regional office.

She said 10 schools in Michigan offer it.

In total, 2,512 schools in 132 countries offer the program.

The global perspective taught through the program attracted Central Catholic to it, Father Hartigan said.

"What they're trying to do is take the curriculum that most schools operate by and begin to bring in the whole global aspects that so often they miss," he said.

The program will be in addition to Central Catholic's advanced and honors courses, which include advanced placement courses and college classes through partnerships with Lourdes and Owens Community colleges.

And, Ms. Arter said, the international baccalaureate program will help not only the students who pursue its diploma but also all students at the high school because of the extra training teachers will receive to teach it.

"We just think it is one of the best educational programs in the world," she said.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:

mgilbert@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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