ISBerne Graduation 2012

International School of Berne congratulates the Class of 2012 and in looking to 2013 marks a new step in the schools history, an online diploma for students around the world.

ISBerne Online students have the unique experience of being connected to an existing traditional or “brick and mortar” international school community – the International School of Berne, in the capital city of Switzerland.  Reflecting this close association and the many links between our online and ‘offline’ schools, we sometimes post articles here about ISBerne to keep all our ISBerne Online students and teachers updated on the latest news and events from Berne…

On June 8, 2012, the International School of Berne (ISBerne), an international school authorized by the International Baccalaureate Organization and serving students from age 3 – 19, honored 24 high school graduates during 2012 graduation ceremonies.  Since the school’s founding in 1962, ISBerne has developed into a top-tier academic school, with results rivaling the larger international schools of Europe.  ISBerne has benefited from its size and small close-knit family feel and has been able to develop a tailored approach to education that supports students from diverse educational backgrounds.  This year’s 242 students came from over 40 countries and a wide variety of educational systems.  The community of expat families represent over 70 organizations, embassies and and/or businesses in the Canton of Bern and beyond.

With a focus on leading a 21st century approach to education and in eager anticipation of the school’s next 50 years, the educators at ISBerne have embarked on an innovative parallel path with the creation of ISBerne Online, a premier online high school and the first ever linked to a Swiss private school. As many schools question how to develop a curriculum for the modern student, ISBerne launched the new international online diploma option in partnership with K12, Inc., the current leader in online curriculum development in the U.S. and around the world. The program gives students around the world the opportunity to enroll as regular matriculated students. Additionally, on campus students now have more elective options to choose from the extensive K12 course catalog. It has allowed the school to offer choices inside of a limited small school budget.

When asked about the future of the school, the school’s Director, Mr. Kevin Page’s message is clear. “Every school needs to re-evaluate their programs today and ensure that 21st Century skills are being taught. That’s why the online learning initiatives are important – colleges and universities are expecting these skills. We focus our program decisions based on what benefits our students. The students are at the core of what we do and in today’s digital world, we understand that a balanced approach to distance learning and online tools should be part of the mix.”  With students already studying online from as far away as Panama and California, the ISBerne community has truly opened its doors to the world and committed to innovation, change and most importantly, balanced growth.

Over the last 18 months, the ISBerne leadership team has taken calculated steps to develop new opportunities that can grow and sustain the school.  Admissions & Marketing Director, Mr. Aaron Schmidtberger, recognizes that it is all about balance.  “A charming small school can seize opportunities with forward thinking.  The Canton of Bern’s principal charm is the fact that it manages to feel like a small community while still being a capital of Europe.  Similarly, ISBerne is a small school and has maintained a solid presence among other international schools.  Along with Mr. Page, Secondary School Principal Mr. Tobin Bechtel and Elementary School Principal, Mr. Scott Jackson, have worked extensively in Europe and are constant leaders of accreditation and curriculum development teams that visit other schools.  All of this sets us up to take a leadership role in how the future of education will develop.  This leadership team is thinking outside the box, keeping things balanced, and is making bold actions that will increase our footprint – in ways that larger international schools often cannot do.”

ISBerne is developing a growth plan that doesn’t diminish the special family school feel.  School administrators feel that the ISBerne student body can grow to 400 students and not lose this.  Actually a student body of this size would maintain ISBerne’s place as a small innovative school – the other schools in our area have populations of 1000 or more.  Therefore, the new campus project, Campus 2014, is planning for a new purpose-built campus to accommodate this number.  In addition, the project will align campus facilities with the needs of a 21st century student body and lastly, will take its place amongst other new and high-quality facilities in Switzerland and Europe.  After 50 years of support, the community of Bern will have a state-of-the-art international school campus.

Although we eagerly look forward to holding graduation ceremonies on the new campus, next year the ceremonies will again take place at the Mattenhofsaal Auditorium, a short distance from the campus in Gümligen.  This year’s Commencement speaker, Mr. Pierre Perrin, Former Chief Medical Officer for the International Committee of the Red Cross spoke at the ceremony. “Remember that to work in international fields, you must be flexible.  You also should be confident with what you are doing, and more specifically, you must be ready to make quick and decisive actions.  In the future, changes, globalization, and even radicalization, are issues that you and the world will continue to face,” said Perrin, addressing the students, administration, faculty, parents and guests in attendance.  “In my career, I always tried to push myself to go a step beyond the status quo or what I was currently doing.”

The graduates are anxiously anticipating the release of IB exam scores and news from the numerous universities and colleges to which they have applied. ISBerne has received a 100% pass rating each of the past two years and has an average IB Diploma Programme score well above the global average. ISBerne graduates (2009 – 2011) have been accepted at the following schools around the world: Berne University, Cambridge University, Edinburgh University, Ecole Hotelière Lausanne, Kings College, London School of Economics, Amherst College, Brown University, Bryn Mawr College, Michigan State University, Northeastern University, Toronto University, University of British Columbia, UCLA, Wellesley College, William and Mary, Capetown University, and ITESM Technical University, Mexico.

“This evening you are taking part in your graduation ceremony, this is another step, in your lives, what was commonly called a rite of passage, of which in our modern society we have so few.” said Mr. Page, in his address to the young men and women. “Today and what this ceremony stands for is a determining moment in the lives of you our students. Look forward and with vision, work positively for this global village in which we all share, for which we all individually and collectively are responsible for.  For each one of you has so much to contribute to make this a safe and sustainable world for generations to come”, he continued and then joined Mrs. Diane Black, President of the Parent Staff Association, in awarding each student their well-deserved diploma.

ISBerne Online looks forward to changing the way online students experience their graduation ceremony.  Some will virtually join and others will travel to Switzerland to stand next to their on-campus friends and graduates.  But however they experience it, they will all experience the collective feeling that they are part of a small, close community.  Online education is certainly delivered in a virtual space, and we all must learn how to work and succeed in a world driven by technology, electronic gadgets, and even an Avatar or two. But life is most certainly lived in a vibrant non-virtual world and ISBerne Online students have an opportunity to get the best of both worlds.

More about ISBerne

ISBerne is a full-time, fully accredited international day school serving students in grades pre-K through 12.  ISBerne is a member of the European Council of International Schools, and since 1991, has been authorized by the International Baccalaureate Organization giving parents and families the choice to access the highly respected IB Diploma Programmes and curriculum.  ISBerne is also an innovative developer of distance-based learning through its new online high school, ISBerne Online and as one of four schools globally participating in the IB Open World Schools Project, an initiative providing IB courses online.  ISBerne AG is a member of the K12 Inc education group, (NYSE: LRN), the largest provider of proprietary curriculum and online education programs in the United States and around the world.

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