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News : Education May 15, 2009 - 5:35 AM

Whitby school explores international baccalaureate high school option

By Whitby School

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GREENWICH, CT – Whitby School, which is in the process of earning accreditation as an International Baccalaureate school for the primary and middle years programs, is also exploring interest from its families in expanding the popular IB program into the high school level with the IB Diploma Program. The town of Greenwich currently does not have a high school that offers the highly acclaimed IB Diploma Program (three towns in Connecticut do have IB high schools – East Hartford, Groton and Bridgeport). While the idea of expanding the IB program is in the early stages, Whitby School has been encouraged by a recent campus-wide survey in which a large percentage of responding Whitby families indicated that they would be interested in exploring the option of an IB high school.

In the recent survey, 82 percent of respondents indicated they would be potentially interested in Whitby School expanding its educational offerings beyond eighth grade, which the school currently offers. And of the survey’s respondents, 82 percent also indicated they would be interested in Whitby offering an IB high school Diploma Program as part of its expansion into high school. As part of the survey, the school also investigated the option of partnering with another IB high school based in New York City versus having the IB program located in the Greenwich area. Respondents were still enthusiastic on the IB partnership program in New York City, with 59 percent indicating they would be possibly or definitely interested, but were more inclined to want the local IB high school with 70 percent of respondents interested in a Greenwich area IB high school option. Of all respondents to the survey, more than 83 percent of Whitby families indicated they would like to learn more about the possibility of exploring the option of adding an IB Diploma high school program at the school.

“The interest in an IB Diploma Program is driven by a strong desire by parents and students to have continuity in their education,” said Doug Fainelli, Whitby head of school. “Students and their parents recognize the power in the IB Diploma Program and its superior educational experience. Whitby families have embraced the IB program at the middle school and primary levels, and want that education experience to continue, so it seems a natural progression to continue with this exceptional educational model through the high school years.” Fainelli noted that he also expects interest in an IB high school Diploma Program from other families in the Greenwich area whose children have attended the two other IB elementary schools (The International School at Dundee and New Lebanon School), and families from Stamford whose children attend The International School at Rogers Magnet, another IB primary years program in the area.

The Diploma Program is one of three programs offered by the IB (the Primary and Middle Years Programs are also offered at Whitby School). The IB Diploma Program has been recognized worldwide as a powerful educational experience. A disproportionate percentage of the top high schools in the U.S. ranked by U.S. News & World Report offer the IB Diploma Program. The IB Diploma Program offers students a competitive advantage in gaining university acceptance, with many students able to earn college credit while still in high school. The Diploma Program is a challenging, two-year curriculum for students aged 16-to-19 and leads to qualification that is widely recognized by the world’s leading universities. The program was started in 1968 and is now offered in 1,954 high schools worldwide. The Diploma Program prepares students for moving on to college and encourages them to ask challenging questions, learn how to learn, develop a strong sense of their own identity and culture, develop the ability to communicate with and understand people from other countries and cultures.

Next steps for Whitby School are to draft a feasibility study to determine the advantages, options, costs and potential timeline to initiate grades 9 to 12 in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program sequence. Fainelli noted that while the school doesn’t yet have a specific timeframe, it does have a group of motivated parents and staff eager to implement the next phase of the thought process.

Founded in 1958, Whitby is a premiere, co-educational independent school for children 18 months through 8th grade. Whitby continues as an innovative leader in education by building on its roots as America’s first Montessori school by incorporating the highly acclaimed International Baccalaureate (IB) programs for both the primary and middle school. International Baccalaureate offers high quality programs of international education to a worldwide community of more than 656,000 IB students at 2,401 schools in 129 countries. Whitby's dynamic approach to education provides children the intellectual, personal and social skills to learn, live and succeed in today’s global community. Whitby has 355 students on a 25-acre Greenwich campus with an inspirational atmosphere that fosters students’ passion for learning. For more information, visit or call 203-869-8464.

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