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Business community hears academic update

By Staff | Dec 6, 2008

Officials from four high schools in Cape Coral discussed the future of education to community leaders during the monthly meeting of the Council for Progress Friday.
Principals, faculty and students from Ida S. Baker High, Mariner High, Cape Coral High and the newly opened North Nicholas High attended the meeting. Their purpose was to brief elected officials and business representatives on what is happening in high schools throughout the city.
“When most of us went to high school it was a static curriculum. Today, we will see a whole new venture in curriculum in the high schools,” said Wayne Kirkwood, director of the Council for Progress.
Melissa Robbery, assistant principal of curriculum at Ida S. Baker, described the school’s six academies — Freshman Success, Building Construction, Business, Finance and IT, Engineering, Medical and Public Service.
She explained that 90 percent of the students at Ida S. Baker are enrolled in an academy. These students are also eligible for the Golden Seal scholarship that pays for 75 percent of the tuition at a state university.
“Our goal for our students are to make really good choices during high school and develop a plan to help them be successful in life and choose a career they will love every day,” said Robbery.
Principal Eric McFee from Cape Coral High discussed the school’s international baccalaureate (IB) program. The school also focuses on small learning communities.
For years, he explained, high ranking students were leaving Cape Coral to enroll in Fort Myers High’s IB program, a trend he called “brain drain.” Now with an IB program at Cape High many students are staying in the city.
It takes five years for a school to set up an IB program. There are 2,145 schools in 125 countries which offer these programs and the curriculum is the same worldwide. Student exams are actually graded in foreign countries such as South Africa or Switzerland.
“We are offering a lot of programs here in our zone to keep our kids here. If they receive an IB diploma they are guaranteed two years of college already done,” said McFee.
The 400 IB students at Cape High take advanced classes and have to produce a 4,000 word extended essay in their senior year. According to McFee, 99 percent of IB graduates are accepted to the University of Florida.
Mariner High Principal Erik Cioffi showcased the school’s Math, Science and Technology Academy which graduated its inaugural class this year.
“We are trying to teach the concepts for jobs that don’t exist today,” said Cioffi.
Students at Mariner High take advanced classes in math and science, as well as use tools like the Kilroy Development Board, a blank circuit board that is developed and programed by each academy member. Later, the students create their own robotic devices out of the circuit board.
Mariner often works alongside the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, the number one rated school in the United States.
“We have the distinct privilege of working with future innovators,” said Cioffi.