COOL SCHOOL: A.C. Flora boasts largest IB Diploma Program in the - - Columbia, South Carolina |

COOL SCHOOL: A.C. Flora boasts largest IB Diploma Program in the state

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Academic achievement appears to be second nature for many students at A.C. Flora High School in Richland One.

The school boasts the state's largest "Full Diploma International Baccalaureate Programme" with 90 junior and senior students enrolled as "candidates" this year alone. 

So what is IB? You'll only find the international program at five high schools across the Midlands. It aims to challenge students academically and prepare them for success at college and beyond.

WIS spent a morning inside Math Teacher Patrick Rybarczyk's High Level IB Math Class. "We're solving differential equations," said ‘Mr. R.'  "Typically if a student is in AP (Advanced Placement) Calculus then they're going to learn how to solve a separable differential equation. These kids are in IB higher level math and our option is series of differential equations, so we also teach them how to solve differential equations using an integrating factor, and we also teach them how to solve homogeneous differential equations."

Rybarczyk says he pairs his lesson alongside the AP College Board exams, but adds that the IB curriculum lets him take learning even further. "We took the AP BC Cal exam last year… this year they take the [Higher Learning] math exams," said Rybarczyk.

Students in the program say they love it. "It's definitely been a challenge, but I do feel very ready for college next year," said Brittany Busto, a senior IB student.

In the IB program, juniors and seniors take six courses yearly at a high or standard level with a focus on critical thinking and international mindedness. "I feel like I've learned problem solving skills and how to manage my time," said Busto.

The school's IB Coordinator Bonnie Boland says having the program helps put a spotlight on their students when it comes to looking for colleges. "Having chosen such a rigorous program is sort of a selling factor, because the colleges know that it is an overall preparation in all subject areas," said Boland.

These students aren't just intelligent, most are heavily involved outside the classroom. IB students are involved in everything from athletics and student government, to cheerleading and school clubs. "They're highly motivated, so whatever it is that they're doing, they want to be good at it, and a lot of times they want to be the best," said Rybarcyzk.

That includes Senior Luke Thompson. He's ranked #1 in his class, in the IB program, is involved in youth and government at the SC State House and was just selected as a U.S. Presidential Scholar semifinalist. (Only 560 students across the country are selected for that honor.)

Luke says he's wouldn't say his achievements have come easy, but adds he's worked very hard in and out of the classroom. He has this advice for students entering high school. "SAT scores and ACT scores are very important to get into school, so you want to practice that and practice that a lot," said Thompson. "For other activities, just be involved and do what you like to do. For middle schoolers, I would say that Flora is the best school in the Columbia area."

Teachers at Flora say these students are so successful because of their drive & motivation. They add that their previous teachers and education, as well as their parent involvement are all a part of the recipe for success.

News 10 Sunrise was live at A.C. Flora High School for our Cool Schools segment of the week and spoke to other school groups including the school's Army JROTC. To learn more, watch the news clips above.

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