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Hoover HS International Baccalaureate: A Primer

Becky Bueche
HCS Public Relations

(HOOVER) - As 9th-grade students arrive in Melissa Hamley’s International Baccalaureate (IB) classroom for their advisory CREW (Constructing Relationships Empowering Wisdom) class, they take their places and start the day’s discussion. In this 25 minute class, they discuss topics ranging from study skills to career discovery to stress management. 

For the average high school student, stress is a major concern, so Hamley uses this time to delve into the stressors in student’s lives, then deepens the discussion to discovering the physiological changes stress wreaks on the body, and finally helps students plan how they will deal effectively with stress in their lives. 

This is just one example of what makes the IB program at Hoover High School such a special place for students. 

In 1998, Hoover graduated its first group of IB students. There were seven students in this graduating class; this past year, 52 seniors participated in the IB program, with 32 of them pursuing the full IB diploma. While the number of students graduating with the full IB diploma has increased, the initial vision of the program has remained the same: to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.  

Teacher Melissa Hamley is the IB Coordinator.   

“I feel that program is growing because, for a long time, people didn’t know we existed or what we even did in these classes,” Hamley stated. “Because the classes were so small in the beginning, some felt that these were only classes for those headed to the Ivy League or abroad for their post-secondary education. However, we wanted to get students from all walks of life to try the program.” 

Students in IB at Hoover can choose to pursue a full IB diploma which includes all core classes, an elective, and four years in a foreign language, or they can choose to enjoy the benefits of IB classes without taking the full load. 

So what are the choices for students who enroll in IB at Hoover? 

In 9th grade, students must enroll in both Pre-IB English and history. These classes are cross-curricular, meaning the teachers work together to plan lessons that encompass both subject areas. 

In 10th grade, students continue with Pre-IB English and history. In 11th grade, students can choose to pursue the full IB diploma, which is recognized globally as one of the most rigorous high school diplomas, or choose to continue to take IB courses along with their other classes. The main benefit of the IB classes is that they teach students how to research and write critically in every subject area, a valuable skill to possess in any degree or career choice. 

In addition to working with students academically, Hamley said that students are also encouraged to get to know each other on a personal level. To facilitate this, a Leadership Council made up of nine IB students across all grade levels, works together in part to plan events that bring all students together for fun relationship-building activities. This past semester, the council planned a Winter Social complete with pajamas and karaoke. They also look forward to a field day in the spring that will include incoming 8th graders who have chosen the Pre-IB path for 9th grade. 

“Developing the whole child is the goal of IB,” Hamley stated. “A well-rounded, comprehensive, interdisciplinary diploma is what IB represents.”

Contact Melissa Hamley if you have an interest in the IB program at Hoover High School and wish to learn more or check out the IB webpage at