WEST JORDAN – West Jordan High School recently won big, not in athletics but in academics as it became the first Utah high school west of Interstate 15, to get the International Baccalaureate Program.
It's an exciting accomplishment for the school and its students.
"I'm excited because I want to be surrounded by other people who are also excited about learning," said Ella Gilbert, who's entering the program next school year.
Most of the students enrolled so far said they're looking forward to the challenge.
"I find my regular classes really easy," said Rosemary Olivera. "I just want the opportunity to see if it's more difficult than honors and AP."
Chandler Bishop is the IB Coordinator and a teacher at West Jordan High.
"It's the program that really prepares kids, probably the best for college than any other college prep program," said Bishop.
The IB program is recognized globally. It's a two-year educational program aimed at juniors and seniors in 140 countries around the world.
In Utah, 10 high schools already have the program. Next year, West Jordan will make it 11.
"We'll be the first high school in the Jordan District to have the IB program," said Bishop. "I'm very excited. It's a really cool program. It's an incredible opportunity for students to learn some very important skills very early."
Besides academics, the program requires a mix of extracurricular activities and community service. The classes are geared towards developing critical thinking and real-world skills.
"The classes, they go into things that actually matter," said sophomore Jaci Garrick. "Climate change, deforestation, and stuff that you actually need like how to start a business."
Many students said the program will prepare them even more for college.
"I want to do a bachelor's or master's degree in art and this will help me have a better opportunity," said Emma-Lynn Boyle.
"I think really experiencing it and getting that challenging difficulty will really help me with the future," said Aidan Jex.
They have a lot to be excited about. Students who have an IB diploma can get college credits and the chances of going to a top university skyrocket.
"What they've found is that you're somewhere between 12% to 15% more likely than an average student to be accepted to an Ivy League School," said Bishop. "And you're also 20% to 25% more likely to be accepted into one of the top 25 schools in the country."
"I feel like more students should do it because it literally prepares you for the future," said Olivera.
The IB Program is rigorous and challenging, but it was also tough to bring it to the school. West Jordan High had to go through a two-year application process.
In the end, they believe they were selected because of their ethnic, religious and socioeconomic diversity.