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Final Presentation Completes IB Journey for Somers Seniors

Student showing IB ProjectAs Jared Googel began his final presentation to a crowd assembled in the high school library, he named three objects: Major League Baseball prospects, the explorer David Thompson and a MacBook. The Theory of Knowledge class, a key part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, asks students to pick any three objects or individuals and explain why they relate to a chosen topic.

To weave a correlation between his three, disparate objects — seemingly a stretch — Googel explained the role experts play in influencing our consumption of knowledge. Whether it was a baseball analyst’s knowledge of top prospects, an adventurer’s understanding of longitude or a friend’s familiarity with laptop technology, Googel explained how and why humans turn to those they consider experts for key insight.

Googel said this type of outside-the-box thinking led him to pursue an IB diploma.

“There is no correct answer to a problem. It’s very research-based, very based on the individual,” he said. “That is something that appealed to me and something that appealed to a lot of my peers in the IB program. And that stood true. I learned so much and my writing skills have improved ten-fold.”

The IB diploma, recognized worldwide, requires students to follow a specialized course of study with core class requirements. The Theory of Knowledge presentation was a summary of each student’s written paper on the subject and the final step before graduation.

The projects presented varied, touching on imagination, implicit bias, ethics and more, and how each can have an impact on or are influenced by our knowledge.

“What I like about IB is that you are not penalized for what you don’t know but, rather, given points for what you do know,” senior Ella Ponterio said before presenting. “The more information you can include, the more points you gain. I think that, for me, is really appealing.”

Ponterio said the appeal of pursuing an IB diploma was how much colleges value the skills students gain, like inquiry-based learning and critical thinking. She researched the college acceptance rates for IB diploma candidates.

Student showing IB Project“That was something that really stood out to me,” she said.

For Zoya Khurana, the pursuit had plenty of personal appeal, too. She has already lived in multiple countries and has considered studying or working abroad.

“I think having the IB diploma will make that transition easier,” she said.

The challenges — primarily writing a 4,000-word research paper on a topic of each student’s choosing — force the students to test themselves before entering college.

Khurana said that researching and writing are key skills for college and her career. “Working on them in high school was something that was really important to me,” she said.