The International High School of New Orleans is too new to have a graduating class yet, but this CBD charter school still ended the 2010-’11 academic year with cause for celebration. That is because the school joined the ranks of a prestigious international education program known for academic rigor, advanced college preparation and intercultural understanding.
Starting this fall, the International High School will offer diploma programs from the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the IBO has programs from elementary to high school levels designed to bring a global perspective and critical thinking to students’ education and prepare them for the increasingly interconnected global economy.
“This is, in a nutshell, about creating global citizens,” says International High School principal Anthony Amato, who served as superintendent of New Orleans Public Schools from 2003 to ’05.
One of those students, ninth-grader Taylor Wartberg, says she’s excited for the opportunity to earn an International Baccalaureate diploma.
A global perspective has been part of the International High School from the start. It was formed by parents and community leaders in 2009 in part to offer students who had participated in foreign language immersion programs at public elementary and middle schools the chance to continue those studies in high school. It took over the once-crumbling Rabouin High School campus on Carondelet Street, and today it’s the only public high school offering immersion programs in both Spanish and French, plus Arabic. After a year as a Recovery School District school, it completed its first academic year as a “Type 2” public charter school, meaning it accepts students from anywhere in Louisiana.
Just 2 percent of schools nationwide offer the IBO program, including five schools in Jefferson Parish. The International High School is the first to do so in New Orleans. Amato says the school stands apart even in the select company of IBO institutions because of its open admissions policy and the high proportion of its students who come from low-income families.
According to Amato, “We provide equity and access where no other has gone.”