School Bells: District signs on to IB plan, Hikone fundraiser is Oct. 18

A series of briefs from around The Ann Arbor Public Schools.

Board OKs participation in International Baccalaureate program

The Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education on Oct. 15 approved the district’s participation in a countywide International Baccalaureate Program through the Washtenaw Intermediate School District.

The college-prep program is based on an international nonprofit IB educational organization based in Geneva, Switzerland. The school would follow the Michigan Merit Curriculum, but also have written assessments  evaluated by external IB examiners and focus on a globalizing world; a minimum level of attainment would have to be reached to receive the IB Diploma.

After studying the idea and surveying parents around the county, the WISD has proposed opening such a school in the fall of 2011.  Washtenaw International High School would be housed at the former East Middle School in Ypsilanti serving grades 9-12. It would open in the first year for 150 ninth-graders with seats allocated by district size; Ann Arbor would receive about 35 percent of the planned 600-student total.  Teachers would work for participating districts and a steering committee would oversee policy and budget.

There are currently 33 IB schools in Michigan, with another 101 in the authorization process. WISD research notes that 20 percent of students in IB schools were previously not enrolled in public schools, so this program is seen as an opportunity to attract more students.  Around the world, there are more than 3,000 such schools for students of all ages in 139 countries.

An IB career certificate is also being pursued for the Washtenaw program. The organizing panel hopes to adopt the IB career certificate program in Washtenaw County when it becomes available.

Fundraiser is Monday for Hikone exchange students

Ann Arbor celebrities and local educators will serve as guest grillers at a fundraising event Monday in downtown Ann Arbor to raise money for eighth- and ninth-graders who are traveling to Hikone, Japan as student ambassadors this fall.

The Oct. 18 event for the Hikone Exchange Program will run from 6-9 p.m. at bd’s Mongolian Grill, 200 S. Main St.

Local celebrity grillers include local radio host and CTN Assistant Manager Lucy Ann Lance and Rec & Ed Youth Sports Programmer Seth Dodson. Angell Elementary School Principal Gary Court will serve as a guest griller for the third year, and he will be joined by Rusty Fuller, geography teacher at Slauson Middle School; Rick Dekeon, Northside Elementary School physical education teacher; and Jerry Kelley, retired Ann Arbor principal and teacher.

While meals are being prepared, student ambassadors will share information about the exchange program and its benefits.

Slauson Middle School teacher Carol Mohrlock retired teacher Nancy Burke will serve as project directors this year, leading a delegation of 12 students representing: Ann Arbor Open @ Mack; Community and Skyline high schools; and Clague, Forsythe, Scarlett, Slauson and Tappan middle schools.

Questions about the fundraiser or general questions about the Hikone-Ann Arbor Educational Exchange Program can be directed to Larry Dishman at

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