IB director provides perspective on program’s demise

Decreased enrollment, scheduling conflicts spur cancellation


Ava Amos

English teacher Dr. Stephanie Kucsera instructs her A period IB English class.

By Ashlynn Bakemeyer and Ainsley Danilson, Co-Editor-in-Chief / Reporter

Fifteen years after its institution, the International Baccalaureate program is being discontinued on the Hill. 

Accounting for small class sizes, scheduling pressure and additional dual credit college courses, the academic administration team decided to cancel the program as of the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. 

IB coordinator and English teacher Mrs. Lizabeth Bradshaw said that the academic team has discussed the cancellation of the IB program since last spring and made the official decision at the end of the fall semester. 

The academic team members involved in the decision included Principal Mrs. Julie Barthel, Vice Principal for Academics Mr. Mark Matthews, Director of Counseling Mrs. Gretchen Watko ’00, Student Innovation Team member Dr. Aarti Brooks, Language Support Program teacher Miss Ashley Hill, Language Support Program Director Mr. Brian Gross, and nearly every IB teacher. 

Bradshaw said she had expected the IB program to be discontinued because she said she was “aware of the stresses that come along with running the program.” She added, “It’s expensive and difficult for the school to support such small classes.”

Along with that, she mentioned that the administration found that IB classes made scheduling more difficult as well. Although she had been made aware of the possibility of the cancellation, Bradshaw said that many others were surprised by the decision. “The students especially were very sad and expressed all of the ways that the IB program had helped them,” Bradshaw said.

She said that she would continue to support all currently enrolled IB students through their classes for the rest of the year.

The students especially were very sad and expressed all of the ways that the IB program had helped them.”

— IB program director Mrs. Liz Bradshaw

IB English student junior Amelia DeSanto said she was shocked that the IB program had been discontinued. She said, “Cathedral talks about core values, and IB has a lot of the same values and traits.” DeSanto said that she and her seven other IB English classmates “did not find out about the IB program stopping until (early in the week of Jan. 18).” DeSanto’s IB English class, taught by Dr. Stephanie Kuscera, will be the last to finish this specific course before the cancellation goes into effect. 

As for how the school’s enrollment would be affected by the cancellation of the IB program, Bradshaw said that there is only a what she called “a small number of students who come to Cathedral specifically for the IB program.” Bradshaw added that the students who want to attend a school with an IB program “probably would’ve already chosen a school with a long-standing IB program.”

Despite how upset she and many others say they feel about the cancellation, Bradshaw believes that there will be many positives from the end of IB. “Teachers, counselors and students will be more focused on the ACP and AP students,” Bradshaw said. 

In addition, all of the administration’s energy, focus and data analysis can be put toward the other programs such as AP and ACP, instead of having to balance three different academic strands. She also said that she thinks that the removal of the program will allow the school to better analyze how the students in the other two programs are faring. Bradshaw added that she believes that students overall will have better experiences in the other classes on the Hill without the additional pressure of the IB program.

Bradshaw said that the IB program has helped her and its students become better thinkers and people. DeSanto added, “It was a really great program and helped accommodate students’ preferred learning styles.”

Although the IB students and teachers are disappointed to see the program discontinued, Bradshaw said, “I’d like to believe (the IB program) will come back. However, I think it’s the right decision for the school.”