Last item for navigation
IB graduates in UCS set a new diploma record during pandemic year
IB graduates in UCS set a new diploma record during pandemic year
Posted on 10/08/2021

Despite the challenges of learning during a pandemic, Gene L. Klida Utica Academy for International Studies (GLK-UAIS) graduates made history this year.

Ninety-three percent of the 2021 GLK-UAIS graduates who took the rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) examination were awarded an IB Diploma – the highest in the history of the program.

“This extraordinary work speaks to the commitment and work of the entire IB team – students, staff and parents,” Utica Community Schools Superintendent, Robert Monroe, said. “The IB diploma further distinguishes these graduates as college and career candidates who are well rounded, community minded and ready to meet any challenges put before them.”

To earn an IB diploma, graduates must successfully take a series of international exams that stretch over several weeks.

The assessments measure the extent to which students have mastered advanced academic skills, including how they analyze and present information, evaluate and construct arguments and can solve problems creatively.

Students must earn a minimum of 24 points on the exams (out of a maximum of 45 points), and the assessments are initially marked by teachers and then moderated by external moderators or sent directly to external examiners around the world.

GLK-UAIS graduates said they felt well prepared for the exams.

"The teachers at UAIS prepare you very well starting from junior year to take these specific kinds of tests," said 2021 graduate Jack Sanitate, who earned the IB diploma.  "I also reviewed notes, assignments and videos from previous years. The various tests are spread throughout the month of May, which I think is an important factor in being able to focus on reviewing 1-2 subjects at a time every week."

While IB exams can be similar to Advanced Placement programs, earning the International Diploma represents success across all aspects of a rigorous curriculum and demonstrates to future colleges and employers that graduates can effectively write and research in all areas of their studies.

Catrina Cagalawan, who earned the International Diploma as a 2021 graduate, said the diploma recognizes the hard work and experiences she had at GLK-UAIS.

“For me, the diploma is not defined by how many points I earned. Instead, the diploma is representative of the determination, grit and hard work I put in throughout my four years at GLK-UAIS,” she said. “It is symbolic of all my experiences, both academically and personally, and the memories I made during my time at The Academy."

“The life lessons I learned at GLK-UAIS have already proven extremely helpful in my freshman year of nursing school at the University of Michigan, and I know that these experiences will propel me to take risks, be a better communicator, and take on challenges in my career/life goals,” she said.                                                    
Her comments were mirrored by Sanitate, who said the diploma helped him get into his dream school - Duke University.

I think having the diploma is a good symbol of all my hard work in high school coming to fruition, and it is known throughout the world as a well-respected sign of accomplishment in education," he said. "It’s also been helping me since I’ve gotten to college, because such a rigorous, well-rounded education has prepared me for any challenges I have to face."

The GLK-UAIS opened in 2008 to provide UCS with the The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme, an internationally respected program that sets rigorous academic standards world-wide.

Ninth and tenth graders are enrolled in a two-year program to prepare them for graduation from the IB Diploma Programme, offered their junior and senior years.

The Programme’s philosophy centers on providing its students with the skills needed to compete both intellectually and socially in any learning or work environment, anywhere in the world.

GLK-UAIS is annually recognized as Michigan’s most rigorous high school and among the top 100 in the country.

"Not only did UCS give me a strong academic base, but it also helped me succeed in my extracurriculars," Sanitate said. "This all helped me get into the college of my dreams, and I know my experience at UCS will continue to help me in my future endeavors. I’m beyond grateful to all the teachers and staff who have helped get me to this point over my 13-year journey at UCS."

Cagalawan also credited her entire K-12 experiences for setting her up for future success.

“UCS educators have helped me in my journey, pushing me year after year to challenge myself and grow as a person,” Cagalawan said. “This played a huge role in my motivation for pursuing the IB diploma.”