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Bloomfield Hills

December 5, 2012

International Academy now accepting freshman applications

By Robin Ruehlen
C & G Staff Writer

BLOOMFIELD HILLS — For students who are seeking a rigorous, global-oriented experience in their high school studies, four years at the International Academy could be the perfect fit.

The IA is now accepting freshman applications for the Class of 2017 at its three locations in Bloomfield Hills, Troy and White Lake, said IA Principal Lynne Gibson.

“Parents and students visit our facilities and speak with our teachers, and if they make the decision to apply, each application is entered into a lottery,” Gibson said. “Each school district in the area has its own number of seats for the freshmen classes at the IA. For example, if Birmingham has 40 seats, than the first 40 names drawn have dibs on admissions. The rest are put on a waiting list, in case others should decline.”

Potential IA students must pass a math and writing assessment test, and must demonstrate Algebra I proficiency.  However, Gibson said, students do have three opportunities to take the test before the start of the school year.

Those who don’t receive a passing score on the first try may take the test again in the spring. If the second attempt also falls short, students have the option of attending an IA summer school course, or studying on their own before retesting at the end of July.

Gibson said 98 percent of students who take the summer school course end up passing the exam.

“We’ve found that with different schools teaching different concepts, often the students haven’t been exposed to Algebra I yet. Once taught, they run with it, and they move on,” she said.

A public, tuition-free high school, the IA is the largest International Baccalaureate Diploma school in the United States, and the third largest in the world. 

According to the International Baccalaureate Organization, the IB course of study is geared to “develop challenging programs of international education and rigorous assessments, and designed to encourage students all over the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners.”

The IB Diploma is accepted by colleges and universities worldwide, and requires classes and assessment in six subject areas, a 4,000-word essay of independent research, a Theory of Knowledge course and a minimum of 150 hours of co-curricular/community service activities. Juniors and seniors must also submit papers and projects to examiners around the world.

Bloomfield Hills resident Anne Mularoni said she feels “very lucky” to have a school such as IA “right in our backyard.”  Her daughter, Isabel, is currently a senior at the Central Campus.

“We like it because it’s OK to be smart there, and teachers are very dedicated and learning is celebrated,” she said.

“I think it’s good to meet kids from other school districts – that’s an advantage, and everybody starts off new as freshmen. You’re not with the same group of people from middle school, and I think that’s nice. It shakes things up a bit.”

Mularoni said for those who thrive in a focused environment, a school such as IA is “fantastic.”

The Central Campus serves students from Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills, while East Campus in Troy serves students from the Troy district and outwards, all the way to Detroit. The West Campus serves students from the Huron Valley School District, South Lyon and schools of choice.

Gibson said each campus is a small environment - there are 500 students at IA East, 600 at Central and 300 at West, “so our teachers and students really get to know each other well.”

“The teachers are very connected with the students, and are always finding activities that are inquiry-based and student-centered. We’re always thinking of our mission statement – how is this furthering a passion for learning, and with the IB mission, creating people who can get along in a global society,” Gibson said.

“It’s an environment that is respectful and kind, fun and nurturing. Our teachers are here an extra hour per contract after school, running various clubs, and this allows our students to go in for extra help or do their homework in the classroom.”

The IA is also number one among Michigan public high schools in terms of college readiness, measured by the Michigan Merit Exam and is ranked as the No. 5 public high school in the nation by the US News & World Report.

The IA Central Campus, located at 1020 E. Square Lake Road in Bloomfield Hills, and the IA West Campus at 1630 Bogie Lake Road in White Lake are accepting freshmen applications until Jan. 18. The IA East Campus at 1291 Torpey Drive in Troy is accepting applications through Jan. 30.  For more information about the IA, upcoming informational sessions or to download applications, visit www.iatoday.org.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Robin Ruehlen at rruehlen@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1105.