Getting my schedule in the mail was a sign that summer was coming to an end. I didn’t open it for a couple days (if I don’t open my schedule, maybe school won’t start). Eventually, curiosity got the best of me – I was too excited to see what was in store for my junior year. Would I have the same SLC teachers as freshman year? Would my sophomore lit teacher travel up with us for my junior year? I had all the normal new school year anxiety, but I didn’t expect anything out of the ordinary.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I saw my schedule; I had classes on all four floors, teachers I had never heard of, and lunch periods I had never had. After talking with my friends, I realized that everyone was facing the same issue. It seemed like our SLCs were gone. No longer were we in the small communities we were used to. Our schedules were mixed up, messed up, and not what we liked.
During the first weeks, I felt like a stranger in my own school. My safety net of the third floor had been taken from me. Adjusting to different floors, different students, and different atmospheres was hard. Honestly, I didn’t like it. As an upperclassman, I was looking forward to feeling like a big fish in my small SLC and I felt cheated out of the experience. It bothered me that teachers had to learn to call me Jessie (not Jessica, yes I know it says it on the role, no it’s not my name). I missed the familiar faces, classrooms, and teachers I had come to know. I missed my community. And I hated all those stairs. I had to figure out why all these changes were happening.
Luckily, I had an opportunity to talk about the changes with Ms. Stewart, NAHS’s IB Coordinator. She told me about the new changes the IB Diploma program is going through . This year, our school decided to make the IB diploma program accessible to all SLCs, not just the IS track. Instead of applying to get into the IB diploma program as was previously required, students now are required to meet a set of criteria (having a GPA of 80 or above, being one of them). According to Ms. Stewart, North Atlanta is attempting to make the IB diploma more accessible to all students. All 11th and 12th grade IB diploma candidates now take their IB classes together. This allows all students who are motivated to get their IB diploma the chance to do so, regardless of their SLC.
After my talk with Ms. Stewart, I began to see benefits of expanding the IB Diploma Program other than the ones that she and I had talked about. Prior to our talk, I only focused on what I didn’t like about the changes to the program, refusing to see any benefits. After our discussion, I realized that North Atlanta was no longer just the third floor for me. I’m now getting to know students who I wouldn’t normally meet, and getting to know teachers that I had never seen. I’m expanding out of the fishbowl of IS and getting to know the huge ocean of North Atlanta. And yeah, it will take a while to get used to all those stairs. But in the end, expanding the IB diploma program is what is best for the school and I need to get over it.