IB Diploma Seniors Take Annual Trip to Chicago

Elizabeth Bolin, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Recently, the IB senior class embarked on one of the final legs of their IB journey, the annual trip to Chicago.

This is the third successful year of the trip.

“The idea originated out of a mailing company that offered CAS trips,” recalled Mr. Matt Schultz, the IB coordinator. Schultz worked with other teachers and the administration on organizing a similar experience without the expenses of a company doing it. “We wanted to get kids out of their home to an international city like Chicago that’s attainable.”

The primary reason is to provide the diploma students with a different setting so they could focus on the central parts of the diploma like the prescribed title. The prescribed title is the major capstone of the diploma class Theory of Knowledge. TOK is designed to teach the diploma students to recognize their knowledge limitations and to promote thinking about issues holistically.

“The goal is for the students to be able to get a good start on the title and also have a conversation with people they wouldn’t normally come into contact with,” said Schultz.

The trip was composed of three main parts: working on the prescribed title at Loyola University, volunteering at a school in Chicago and taking a trip to the Art Institute.

“It’s a great thing for us to be able to connect with a Catholic university outside of Wisconsin, especially one that reinforces service,” said the coordinator.  

Usually student teachers from Loyola interact with the IB kids to provide alternative looks into the prescribed titles, but this year the scheduling didn’t allow for that. “The point behind that is to give the kids a look at how they will develop in the next four years,” said Schultz.

Senior IB diploma candidate Izzy Kellner’s favorite part of the trip was being able to experience Chicago with her classmates, and, she added, “The food was definitely a highlight as well.”

The group ate at an Armenian restaurant as well as a Brazilian steakhouse, which was a big hit with the students. Despite the stress, Kellner is happy she chose to be a part of the diploma program because of how well it has prepared her for college.

“I also like how I have been in the same classes with the same people for two years now. We have gotten really close and grown a lot together,” said the senior.

Schultz’s favorite part about being involved with the IB program is getting to work with students on the extended essay. “I also really do like the fact that we can see kids develop over two years. It’s a really great thing for a teacher to be with a student for that long and be able to build a relationship with them as well as watch them transition and mature over time.”

When asked what advice he would give to those graduating this spring, Schultz stressed the importance of balance. “Obviously you’re going to be well prepared, but you need to keep hold of your ideals, take calculated risks but not too often because you can start to lose yourself. Focus on what is important to you, which means saying ‘no’ sometimes–which can be very hard as a college student.”

Schultz is confident that the Academy has prepared the seniors for college and will remain a resource for those still at Notre Dame. He urges students to participate in the IB program in any way, shape or form. “I wish at any point every student could experience IB to a certain level, even just taking one class. I really want to support all the kids who want to try it.”