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Ninth-graders may have option to transfer for international program
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GAINESVILLE — The Hall County school system is looking at allowing rising ninth-graders interested in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme to start their high school career at Johnson High School, one of the Hall County high schools offering the program.

Students wouldn’t be able to start the two-year program until 11th grade, but they’d already be accustomed to the high school before starting the program.

"I think it’s asking a kid a lot to get into a high school for two years and make a circle of friends and be part of a community and then move," said Will Schofield, superintendent of Hall County schools.

However, there are potential issues in a transfer student deciding not to pursue IB after his sophomore year.

"What we’ve decided is ... to look at some of the magnet programs around the country that have been dealing with this a lot longer than we have and see what some of those policies look like," said Schofield, who discussed the matter Monday night with the Hall Board of Education.

The Geneva-based International Baccalaureate Organization notified Johnson, North Hall and West Hall high schools last week that they have been authorized to start up the highly challenging program.

Students at Flowery Branch, East Hall and Chestatee high schools would have the transfer option.

The Diploma Programme seeks "to provide students with a truly international education" that encourages "an understanding and appreciation of other cultures, languages and points of view," according to the IB Web site.

The program’s core requirements for students are a 4,000-word essay based on an investigation of a topic of interest, an interdisciplinary course "designed to provide coherence by exploring the nature of knowledge across disciplines and encouraging an appreciation of other cultural perspectives," and taking part in "artistic pursuits, sports and community service work."