Letters from the week of January 22, 2004

Magahern's lazy reporting shouldn't bother any of the wonderful teachers and students who participate in the IB program, as any person with even a passing association should be able to see it as the empty hate-mongering it is. His laziness transcends into sheer lunacy, however, when he comments on the IB students' supposedly stunted social life. His suggestion that being "heavily into keggers" is not only a "typical teenage rite of passage" but something suspiciously lacking from the sheltered lives of IB students, is completely revolting. Are we to assume that abstaining from underaged and, therefore, illegal drinking is some kind of character flaw? Even the "mainstream" students he appears to be championing should be offended by this idea that underaged drinking is somehow a part of their domain when there are so many sober, responsible students on every campus in every type of classroom. Shame on you, Jimmy Magahern, and shame on this paper for being willing to publish something so obscene.

Kim Whitley
Via e-mail

IB friendly: Well, I'm not going to send an angry letter, I'm sure you're getting quite a few, but there are a few things that I, as a North High IB student, disagree with in your article. I fully understand your right to your opinion and the journalist's need to create controversy (my dad is a reporter for the Arizona Republic). However, just to let you know, not all IB kids are as you portray them in the article. I'll admit a few can be a bit elitist, but that's a select few. I myself sit at a lunch table with two IB kids on the other side of the quad from the students you interviewed (Sam Campbell, Jacob, etc.), and I'd say 70 percent of my friends are mainstream and/or non-white. I, for one, don't think of myself as better or that I should be treated differently, but of course there are certain factors that create that illusion. For one, teachers tend to offer more opportunities to IB kids because they want them and ask for them, whereas a good amount (not all) of mainstream kids really don't care much. The mainstream kids who do care enough are given the chance to join one or two or even all IB classes if their grades show they can do it and if they want to do it. I realize that this was just a way to get a rise out of people and write a criticism of a program that usually gets nothing but praise in the press, but there is another less elitist side to the IB.

And just to let you know, schoolscum.com is a ridiculous Web site on which I, and almost all other IB students, post sarcastic and cynical (as you said was our language) comments on the site to make fun of it and/or the people who make asses of themselves on it. The story was well-written, though, and it did a very thorough job of sticking it to the IB. Just thought you should know, though, that most of us aren't elitist bastards. Thanks.

Max Mattern

Dramatis personae: I really enjoyed your IB article. My son is a 2001 graduate of the North High School IB program and I thank the heavens every day that he had teachers like Toft, Bueller, Lowes, Campbell and Cady (to name just a few) who were mentioned in your article.

I'm writing this because I would like to point out that there is one place at North High where all the students did come together while my son was there. It was because of the fine work of North High's Mr. David Helmstetter who directed the numerous productions in North's old, yet pretty cool, theater. My son, through the theater program, made some of his best friends at North. And they weren't necessarily fellow IB students. And the portfolio that my son built up, independently of the IB program, earned him acceptance in the technical theater programs at Carnegie Mellon University and the North Carolina School of the Arts. To be sure, his IB education played a large role, but it was his non-IB activities at North that earned him acceptance. David Helmstetter's "drama kids" at North High are respected at places like Phoenix Theatre where my son volunteered as a crew person and sound and follow spot technician.

And I really do believe, in part because of the diversity of North's campus, that my son continues to feel a part of a bigger world and is comfortable in his skin.

Bridget Carroll
Berea, Kentucky

Character flaws: Sounds like some of the IB kids could use a curriculum in relationships (with all peers, not just other IBers), humility (as in a proper perspective of their place in the world), gratitude (for their God-given gifts that some IBers apparently think they conjured up on their own), and general lightening up (the world will survive, indeed flourish, with or without you).

Perhaps the so-called educators at these institutions should take a serious look at expanding the curriculum to include character development. If indeed the article gives an accurate portrayal of the typical IBer, then there are some seriously underdeveloped students coming out of this program.

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