Cactus Shadows High joins elite education program
Arizona Republic
Aug. 1, 2006

IBO is called 'gold standard' for college prep
Carol Sowers
CAVE CREEK -After being put "in a holding pattern" this summer, Cactus Shadows High School learned recently that it will join the elite group of six other Arizona high schools to offer the prestigious International Baccalaureate program.

School officials said Monday that they were notified late last month that they were accepted into the Switzerland-based program known for opening doors to universities worldwide and creating creative young thinkers.

Retta Ward, chairwoman of the school's program committee, said in a statement that she is "delighted that our students have the opportunity to participate in this program, considered the gold standard for university preparation." International Baccalaureate Organization interviewers came to Cactus Shadows in November to talk to teachers, School Board members and students, the last stage of the three-year-application process.

School officials expected to get word this spring about Cactus Shadows'
acceptance into the program. But in June, IBO officials put Cactus Shadows'
application in a "holding pattern" while school administrators worked out details of the math curriculum and teacher training. IBO officials said school administrators selected too rigorous of a math program and didn't want to endanger students into failing. IBO also wanted additional teacher training.

Sid Bailey, Cactus Shadows principal, said Monday that those problems have been solved.

"Our staff is wired and ready to go for this school year," he said.

Since its creation in 1968, IBO has turned out a half-million students in
119 countries.

The curriculum will be offered to juniors and seniors and will be phased in over the next year.

The 21 Cactus Shadows juniors who have tested into the difficult curriculum will be enrolled in IBO classes this school year and continue as seniors next year.

Sophomores will be allowed to apply for the program in the spring and sign up as juniors next year if they are qualified.

The demanding curriculum includes mathematics, computer and experimental science, community service, a second language and "extended essays" judged by international scholars.

Nedda Shaffir, district spokeswoman, said the communities of Cave Creek and Carefree will benefit from the students' volunteer work.

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