9 Rifle grads eye second diplomas

DENNIS WEBB/The Daily Sentinel—Nine Rifle High School graduates are the first from the school to also be diploma candidates for the International Baccalaureate program, from left: Sarah McCutchan, Nick Kosht, Cathy Lozano, Susi Ruiz, Joseph Reyelts, Teig Hauer, Karen Garcia and Micah Ziegler. Not pictured is Alyx Carter.

RIFLE — For nine of the 139 Rifle High School 2014 graduates who received their diplomas Saturday, it won’t be the last diploma they’re counting on receiving this year.

The nine also are the first Rifle graduates to also be diploma candidates for the International Baccalaureate program.

The goal of the international program is “to help create more well-rounded, internationally minded, respectful and caring students,” said Steven Fuller, the program coordinator at Rifle High.

It’s also highly academically demanding. And some five years after Rifle High first pursued becoming an I.B. school, it has produced its first batch of graduates who also have completed the arduous coursework and other requirements, including 150 hours of community service, needed to become I.B. diploma candidates. They won’t get their diplomas until their work is reviewed by moderators, but Fuller said he’s “pretty confident” about their chances.

The nine include Karen Garcia, Sarah McCutchan, Micah Ziegler, Teig Hauer, Joseph Reyelts, Nick Kosht, Susi Ruiz, Cathy Lozano and Alyx Carter.

Participants in the program can receive substantial college credit for their efforts. But they say the real value is in how it better prepares them for college.

“The whole program is basically prep,” said Hauer.

He said it requires a lot of writing, which is probably the biggest thing that helped prepare him for college. Diploma candidates must complete a 4,000-word essay on a topic of their choosing. In the case of Hauer, who plans to study finance at Arizona State University, he focused on the national debt.

McCutchan, who plans to study music at Belmont University in Nashville, said the program taught her to manage her time and not procrastinate.

“I’ve learned how to encourage myself to do work before I play,” she said.

The program participants became something of a family within the family that is the Rifle High 2014 graduating class because they spent so much time together in classes.

Said Reyelts, “Some of my closest friends are in I.B. I don’t know if that’s because of I.B. or who they are.”

Said McCutchan, “We’ve gotten very close, the nine of us.”

She’s proud to be part of Rifle’s inaugural group of I.B. diploma candidates.

“We’ve all worked very hard to get here,” she said.

“It’s pretty cool” to be part of the inaugural group, said Reyelts, who’s headed to study biophysics, and possibly music, at Brigham Young University.

“We had to overcome a lot to do it because it’s new for everyone,” he said.

The graduating class named co-valedictorians this year: I.B. students McCutchan and Reyelts. The class salutatorian is McKinley Phillips.


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