NorKam's IB program finally gets the go-ahead
Sheryl Lindquist will need to order new business cards.
The principal of NorKam secondary now has another official title — "headmaster" of the high school's International Baccalaureate (IB) program.
Lindquist said NorKam received word this week from IB headquarters in Switzerland that the school had received the final go-ahead to begin offering the curriculum in September.
"It's called a certificate of authorization and we've received it," she told KTW.
"It means we are now fully authorized to provide the program for IB."
The fate of the IB program was up in the air earlier this year, when the Kamloops-Thompson Teachers' Association tried to keep teachers from receiving IB training.
That matter was resolved after both sides appeared before the Labour Relations Board in February.
Kamloops-Thompson school district superintendent Terry Sullivan said officials don't anticipate any more roadblocks as the IB program prepares for its first year.
"We're looking ahead, not backward," he said.
"We don't see any obstacles."
IB curriculums are offered at schools around the world, including 300 in Canada.
The program is governed by a Swiss-based organization and is widely regarded as one of the most respected preparatory curriculums for students prior to university studies.
NorKam's IB program will be the first of its kind in the Interior of B.C.
Sullivan said there are about 30 IB programs in the province, all of them in the Lower Mainland or on Vancouver Island.
"I think it's a major move forward for us," he said.
"It has a very strong and positive reputation."
School District No. 73 officials hope the addition of a new "program of excellence" at NorKam will help curb North Kamloops' trend of declining enrolment as well, Sullivan said.
"Enrolment on the North Shore is still declining," he said.
"We hope that it [the IB program] is going to attract students from various schools."
The IB program at NorKam will operate in grades 11 and 12.
The first class — those beginning the program next fall — will be made up solely of Grade 11 students.
There is room for 30 students per grade, but Lindquist said that could change in the future.
"As many kids as want to take it, we can provide it," she said, noting the IB program will attract students from outside Kamloops and from outside the district.
"We've had one parent from Regina phoning and phoning and waiting to see if we were authorized, because they were waiting to decide if they were going to move to Kamloops or Kelowna," Lindquist said.
"It's been a two-and-a-half-year process and, with the tumultuous times we've had this year, we're excited we can offer it."
IB students at NorKam will be charged a rate of $400 per year, Lindquist said, to cover costs associated with international exams.
Lindquist said NorKam is hosting an information session on Monday, April 23, at 7 p.m. in the school library, aimed at parents of Grade 9 students.
She said the plan is to enrol future IB students in NorKam's Grade 10 Honours program as a warm-up for the curriculum.
"It's a shining star for NorKam, but it's also a shining star for Kamloops and the Interior," she said.
"It's one more feather in Kamloops' cap."
HOW WILL NORKAM'S IB PROGRAM WORK?
By the time September rolls around, Lindquist said, 16 NorKam staffers — herself and a vice-principal included — will be fully certified by International Baccalaureate.
"The students study the subjects more deeply and in a broader perspective," she said.
"They have to think and be risk takers, they have to collaborate and they have to be problem solvers."
Students in the IB program will be graded on a seven-point scale, and will write IB-specific exams each May.
The teachers trained for IB will also teach non-IB courses, Lindquist said — in the same way she'll continue to be principal of NorKam while also maintaining the position of IB headmaster.