What Is IB?

IB stands for International Baccalaureate Program.  IB is a rigorous, liberal arts program that offers a top-level education in more than 2,000 schools and in 138 countries.  Please visit www.ibo.org for more general information regarding IB schools.  At the PHS IB program, students receive college level instruction and can earn college credits through their AP and IB classes.  IB is recognized and respected by colleges and universities, including Ivy League schools.


Who should consider applying for the IB program?  

The PHS IB program is designed to prepare students for college. Students who like an academic challenge and want to be highly prepared for college should apply for the IB program.  In addition, students who like to learn, have been successful in school, and have college aspirations, especially Ivy League schools, would benefit from the IB program.


What advantages does the IB program offer?

IB is the best college/university preparatory program in the area.  While dual enrollment and other AP classes are available at surrounding schools, universities and colleges value IB as the most rigorous high school curriculum.  In fact, many colleges exclusively recruit students from the PHS IB program and only visit our school when in the area.


The IB program challenges students in both their strengths and weaknesses, while instilling the benefits of being a well-rounded individual.  IB provides a “private school” education in a public school setting with likeminded students for no cost.  All registration and exams fees are paid for by the district which equals thousands of dollars per student.


We hear that students have “no life” outside of school – is that true?

While it is true that to be successful in the IB program, a student must put in more effort than a traditional program.  Homework and studying is approximately 2-3 hours per night.  Many assignments are long term so students are able to manage their time accordingly. One goal of the IB program is to create a well rounded individual so students are encouraged to participate in a wide variety of outside interests.  95% of the IB students are active members in 2 or more clubs/sports.  If you have this concern, ask current IB students if they have a life outside of school.  In the Fall of 2012, we have implemented the PHS IB testing calendar and homework policy in order for students to have a manageable and balanced workload.


Can I enroll in the IB program if I do not live in the PHS school district? If so, is transportation available?

Yes, students can apply to the IB program if they do not live in the PHS district.  PHS is the only school that offers the program in Escambia or Santa Rosa County so the program is available for all, even students who live across the Alabama border.  There are some center to center bus routes available for students which parents are responsible to transport their student to the bus stop.  Also, some students carpool with other IB classmates in their area.  You may contact the director of transportation for specifics on bus routes at          (850) 429-2949.


What are the requirements to be admitted into the program?

The following criteria are expected for admission into the IB program:

  • A/B average on most recent report card
  • FCAT scores for Reading- level 4 or higher
  • FCAT scores for Math-level 3 or higher
    • Standardized tests will be scored for students who did not take FCAT
    • Four satisfactory teacher recommendations in different subject areas
    • Short essay representing quality writing skills
    • No serious discipline infraction or repeated history of disciplinary problems
    • No persistent attendance problems

Applications can be downloaded from the PHS IB website at www.phsibsupport.org under the “Admissions” tab.  Completed applications are due to PHS by December 3.  Both acceptance and rejection letters will be sent by mail around February 15.


Is PHS a safe environment?

PHS is a safe environment.  If you ask any of our current or former IB students, they will testify to the same notation.  Our Resource Officer has worked in other high schools and states that PHS is one of the safest in the county.  Our campus is locked and secured throughout the entire day.  All visitors are required to check in at the front office and provide identification before entering the locked facilities. We have a state of the art camera system which is monitored by the resource officers regularly.  PHS has a zero tolerance policy for discipline problems which has enhanced the school climate during the past five years.


What are the requirements to remain in the program?

If a student falls below an unweighted GPA of 2.75, he or she will be placed on academic probation.  Probation letters are sent home at the end of each semester.  Academic group counseling will be implemented to help students be successful and recommendations will be given such as tutoring, study skills, & time management.  Students must improve their GPA by the next semester or they can be dismissed.


Is tutoring available?

The National Honor Society offers free student-to-student to tutoring to PHS students Monday through Thursday after school in the Media Center.


How many community service hours are required for IB students?

Aside from strongly preparing students for college, one of the goals of the IB program is to assist students in becoming more well-rounded.  CAS (Creativity, Action, Service) is a step above community service.  IB students are required to complete 50 hours their freshman year and 50 hours their sophomore year with an additional 150 hours to be accrued by the middle of senior year.  CAS is designed to help students find an area they are passionate about serving which has lead students to discover their future aspirations. 


Quotes from graduated IB students- Class of 2012:

~ Meghan Greskovich [Washington & Lee University] When I chose IB as the place I would attend four years of high school, I realized I was entering a program that would provide me with consistent challenges, provide a solid educational foundation that could give me an edge when applying to competitive colleges and university all over the nation, and also give me the necessary preparation and background needed to succeed in the college of my choice. While in the program, I played a sport year round and served on student government all four years. Though this added to the difficulty of balancing schoolwork, varsity sports, and extracurricular activities, it enabled me to attain the two most important qualities a student can have: confidence & time management. Confidence that assured me I could take on any challenge and how to manage my time while being a well rounded individual. Without these two qualities, college would now be an overbearing and rather daunting experience. I can attribute my current ease, preparedness and success in college to the IB program. After coming to a university in another region of the country, with students from all over, where most attended nationally recognized top tier boarding schools and preparatory academies, has truly allowed me to realize all that IB gave me over the past four years that has put me on the same level playing field as my peers as well as an academic edge in regards to time management and taking advanced classes as a freshman. Even though at times while I was in the program I wondered whether it would pay off, within my first month of college I have come to realize it was all worth it.


~ Ryan Burke [Vanderbilt University] Like many IB kids, I was coerced into the program by my parents, but just after freshmen year, I realized that IB was doable, greatly beneficial, and too good to pass up and go back to Gulf Breeze High. I would not be studying at Vanderbilt had I not gone to IB. Colleges are looking out for kids like you.  Also, I stayed in IB because I knew the teachers in IB are great at what they do, in some cases, more so than college professors. I played soccer all four years of high school and played in the fall and spring for a club team. Even though I spent 10 extra hours a week doing this, I still had plenty of time to finish my homework. If you have some fun, doing homework will pass by a little bit easier. Another piece of advice: take your AP/IB classes seriously. You do not want to be toiling over classes in college that you could have received credit for in high school. IB was 100% worth it for me. The support of your teachers and friends from IB is something you won’t experience anywhere else. Take advantage of it.


~ Holly Ingram [University of South Carolina Honors College] Choosing IB wasn’t a hard decision for me. I wanted a challenge and more importantly, I wanted to get into whichever college I wanted to when it became time for applying. Neither of those reasons justify why I stayed. I could have gotten into most of the colleges I ended up applying to by attending another high school in the area. By being at IB I learned the value in the name. When I said I went to IB, I could proudly say I was in the best program in the area. That was a title I earned and I realized especially as the years went on and the classes became harder and more demanding. While did walk away from IB with college credit and an IB Diploma, the best thing I have come to value now that I am away at school is the knowledge of the real world and how the high expectations set out for me by my teachers, peers, and the program, still apply.


~ Kelly Mamelson [University of Florida] Although the IB program has a difficult curriculum, I feel that I have grown as both a student and a person as a result of my four years in the program. I learned to manage my time more effectively with varsity and club soccer and the various clubs I participated in. Since coming to college I have witnessed many people struggle with learning how to study and managing their time, however I feel completely prepared for what is ahead of me. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like both in high school and now in college if I had not attended the IB program. It is one of the most rewarding programs there is, and I have developed so many useful skills because of it.


~ Mary-Grace Reeves [Harvard] Though the IB Diploma Program at PHS may only last four years, the education prepares students for a lifetime of scholastic achievement, empowering them through a heightened awareness of their roles as rising leaders on a global level. Selecting where I would attend high school was personally a decision which I considered very thoughtfully, as I questioned what the IB curriculum could provide that other area high schools could not. Four years later, I will strongly affirm that selecting IB was the best choice. Yes, the course work is incredibly rigorous, and it is very demanding to balance extracurriculars and academics at the pace IB requires. Outside of the classroom, in addition to participating in clubs at PHS, I complemented my education by continuing to devote much of my time to dancing classical ballet as a member of my studio’s ballet company. I grew through CAS, an opportunity I encourage students to embrace, as it allows us to apply our global IB education to make a difference as youth. Now, as a freshman at Harvard College, I honestly believe that there is no better preparation for the rigors of college academics than the IB Program. PHS brings the message of IB to life with an amazing faculty that is unmatched at other high schools. The academic lessons, classroom memories, and friendships from IB will last forever.



~ R.J. Burns [United States Naval Academy] I chose the IB program because I wanted a challenge.  It certainly provided that, but also a great deal more. There were many late nights and lots of stress; however it is the best preparation for college, and especially the rigors of a military academy I could ever ask for. Juggling a full load of IB classes with orchestra and track made my transition from high school student to midshipman much less painful. This program sets a standard for performance that far exceeds any other high school nearby, a standard that produces students capable of getting accepted to Ivy League colleges and earning full scholarships to schools all over the world. The work put into the diploma is worth it in the endless opportunities IB graduates are afforded.



~ Sophia Liu [University of Miami] Applying to high school was an important milestone in my life; my choice would influence my future not only as a student, but also as an individual. I chose the IB program because I knew it would be a scholastic challenge, but I persevered through IB because of my peers, my amazing, amazing teachers and mentors, and the knowledge that I had the courage to learn alongside the brightest of our area. The IB program did not highlight how little I could do outside of school, but rather, it emphasized the magnitude of what I could accomplish with the time allotted. I realized throughout my four years that we, as students and lifelong learners, will always be “too busy” – always on the balls of our feet facing the next challenge and rounding the next learning curve-so it will be those who can manage their time, prioritize, and compromise who will make the largest impact in school and in the community. I played soccer (though not very well) 3 out of the 4 years in IB, was president of Key Club for 2 years, was Vice President of NHS, was involved in Math Club, volunteered in a community clinic, a nursing home, and the hospital, and was dual enrolled in the University of West Florida’s Music Program as Piano Performance student. Obviously, the IB program placed me in a very good position academically when it came time to apply to college, but it was also the acquired mental fortitude and outlook on learning that helped me to enter the Honors Program in Medicine Dual Degree Program (B.S./M.D) at the University of Miami as a Stamps Leadership Scholarship recipient. Even in college, the lessons and material covered by the dedicated, incredibly well qualified instructors I had continue to help me in lectures and exams, attesting to the quality of education IB provides.  However, the life skills I grasped push me to continue to reach for new heights, armed with the knowledge that I have a strong base to support my aspirations and goals.



~ Sami Alsheikh [MIT] The IB program at Pensacola High is intense but completely worth it. Although college is definitely not easy, IB has equipped me to work the best way I can. I think that at every level, students will face increasingly challenging subject content and a growing workload. To cope with this intensity, every student has a method that works best for him or her. IB allowed me to discover my unique approach to tackling tough subject material while maintaining a balance with my non-academic life. I am so thankful that I undertook the task of learning my limits and developing personalized study habits while I still had access to the awesome teachers that IB has to offer. This way, I learned to make time for the extracurricular activities I really cared about: varsity tennis, table tennis club, frisbee club, math club, and teaching. On top of my self-development at IB through academics and extracurricular activities, I find that being surrounded by motivated individuals kept me on the right track. If you’re willing to work to learn more about the world but more importantly your own abilities, IB is simply the way to go. I cannot emphasize enough how glad I am that I decided to attend the IB program at Pensacola High.
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