Lynwood – Seven Firebaugh High School graduates just received the news they have been waiting for: They have all earned International Baccalaureate diplomas after two years of rigorous coursework and community projects.

Graduates Mikhail Brooks (UC Berkeley), Itzel Burgos (UCLA), Naciely Hernandez (UC Irvine), Michelle Rincon (UCLA), Juan Robles (UC Irvine), Susana Salinas (UCLA) and Lesly Torres-Gonzalez (UCLA) all received their final IB examination scores and notification of their diploma completions on July 6.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme was first introduced to Firebaugh High School in 2008, with only two students graduating with full diplomas since that time. This newest batch marks the largest number of IB diplomas received by Firebaugh graduates.

“The IB Programme offered a challenge to students who wanted more out of their academics, and kids become more focused and disciplined through these courses,” Firebaugh IB coordinator Omar Zúñiga said. “This is unique because it allows students to tailor their studies to what they want to do in their future and gets kids out of their shell.”

The IB Programme challenges students to take college-level courses throughout their junior and senior years and allows them to earn college credit with high test scores. In addition to the difficult academic workload, IB students are required to complete 150 hours of creativity, action and service initiatives that focus on their lives outside of school.

“The IB Programme’s large workload has definitely prepared me for college, and it allowed me to connect with teachers and classmates on a deeper level through the workshops and after-school sessions,” said Rincon, who plans to study political science at UCLA. “I was able to branch out into the community through the creativity, action and service activities and expanded my network to meet new people who eventually wrote my recommendation letters.”

In Zúñiga’s IB calculus course, students complete a Mathematical Exploration project, in which course content is applied to an area of their own interest. For example, one student who loved to play guitar created an equation to depict the changes in different frequencies of musical notes.

“Students in our IB Programme really show determination in taking their academics to the next level,” LUSD Superintendent Paul Gothold said. “When they’re able to relate their coursework to their passions, it intensifies their interest in subjects like math and science. That’s really the beauty of the IB courses.”

The IB Programme is not the typical honors curriculum.

Students are able to transfer IB college credits they earn to many universities around the world, and those who earn the IB diploma are oftentimes eligible to enter college as a sophomore.

Teachers in the program provide students tremendous support after school and on Saturdays throughout the school year and also through IB Bootcamps during the summer so students are able to fulfill all IB requirements.

As part of students’ creativity, action and service requirement, students painted a mural for the high school, joined sports teams, raised charitable funds through marathon training and held the first debate for Lynwood Unified’s Board of Education officials.

“This is such an amazing accomplishment for our students, and I can’t wait to see how their hard work in earning these diplomas will boost them at the university level,” Board President Alma-Delia Renteria said. “They will all make Lynwood so proud and I hope they will come back and serve their community in the future.”


072816_LUSD_DIPLOMAS: Students in Firebaugh High’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program visited the California state capital building in Sacramento as part of their annual Bay Area college trip, where they toured several Northern California universities. Seven Firebaugh IB graduates have recently been granted IB diplomas after two years of rigorous coursework and community projects.