IB News: Extended Essay & CAS Celebration on Thursday


Elizabeth Bolin, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

The students of NDA view the IB diploma as two things–an impressive academic achievement by those not in the program and a life-changing decision by those in the program.

Thursday night’s Extended Essay and CAS Celebration is an inside look at the main components of the program that this year’s IB seniors have been working on for months.

To those who are unaware, the IB diploma differentiates itself because of three essential parts. To qualify for the diploma, a student must take a variety of IB classes.

For NDA students, all it takes is a simple talk with Mr. Matt Schultz, the IB coordinator, to help choose which of the IB classes are the best fit for each candidate. In addition to these IB classes, a student must complete an extended essay, take Theory of Knowledge (TOK) and fill out a CAS portfolio.

“The Extended Essay is a college-level rigor research paper on a topic of the student’s choice that cannot be more than 4,000 words,” explained Mr. Schultz. “I think that people are always afraid of the extended essay, and although it is a lot of work, it could be worse. You have a year to do it, and lots of help from your supervisor and myself.”

An Extended Essay IB retreat for the diploma students during their junior year is designed to introduce the paper.

Lilly Brada, an IB diploma senior, contends the Extended Essay is not as daunting as it seems.

“Almost contradictory, you don’t need to work SUPER hard on the EE over summer. Make sure you have sources and a good idea of what you’re going to write, but otherwise don’t worry too much. You have more time than you think,” she said.

The second component is Theory of Knowledge. TOK is a class that is taken by only the IB diploma students. It is designed to let the IB students ponder knowledge itself and is generally well received, a very popular course with diploma students.

“CAS” stands for ‘creativity, activity, and service’ and is basically just an online portfolio of a student’s productive extracurriculars.

“Students do a number of different activities via extracurriculars and and reflect upon how they have shaped their lives,” said Schultz. “Most NDA students already do everything they need for CAS; it’s just a matter of journaling it.”

When Mr. Schultz first took over as IB coordinator at NDA, the Extended Essay and CAS celebration was significantly different from the celebration being held Thursday, March 1, of this year.

“When I first started, the ceremony consisted of the supervisor reading the names of the students and the title of their extended essays. I kind of formed it into a round robin so that every student gets the chance to show off a little bit,” he said.

This year, the kids are making poster boards that encompass their essay and CAS work.

“I’m pretty excited to share my research,” said Brada.  Her EE title is “In What Capacity did the Thai Logging Ban of 1989 Affect the Overall Well-Being of the Asian Elephants in Thailand?”

“Ever since my trip to Thailand a few years ago, I have felt very strongly about the elephants of the country, and I think that people will be interested to know what I’ve learned.”

“The ceremony is primarily to celebrate the great things [the students] do for the community through CAS for other students and other people,” said Mr. Schultz. “It’s a pretty general social event that’s not real formal.”

Schultz has invited everybody from the mayor and bishop to the families of all the diploma kids in the junior class.

To those who are considering but maybe not sold on the IB diploma, the coordinator urges you to use your resources and talk to older students and teachers. “It’s also important to understand that you are your own person, with your own strengths and weaknesses and your own realm of learning.”

Mr. Schultz personally appreciates IB for the professional development it has provided for him as well as the connections he has made with other teachers around the world.

Brada says that the choice is simple. “If you’re looking for a challenge and you want to expand your worldview, this program is for you. It’s hard work, but a lot of that work is done through an international lens.”

She does warn the junior members that senior year is harder than one would expect.

“I think that the most challenging part is the time factor. A lot of the kids who sign up for the diploma are perfect students, but sometimes you have to accept that not everything you do will be 7 worthy, and that’s okay.”

Jenn Cluckey, an IB senior who attended the celebration last year as a junior, explained, “I enjoyed seeing the diversity of the group. Not only was there a wide range of CAS projects, but there was also a wide range of Extended Essay topics. Despite the diversity, everyone gathered in support of one another to acknowledge how much they have accomplished in a year and half

The ceremony is 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 1, in the NDA library.