Parents and students often ask about the expectations of the Venture and IB programs, and what makes for a good learning experience within the two programs. It’s important to recognize both programs as significant academic challenges. Advancement through the years is primarily based on a student’s demonstrated ability to succeed academically within a comprehensive program of class-work and out-of-class commitment. We value all that a student does, but we are definitely seeking to prepare students for university study. Students who wish to participate in the programs should maintain grades at a ‘B’ average or above. There can be an exception for a single course, but there should be strong performances in other areas to compensate. And attitude does matter! We want students to show initiative, play a positive role in and out of class, and take risks that help them grow personally.

We also look to develop the whole person. Student participation in extra-curricular and community activities is valued and encouraged. The IB has developed a Learner Profile (pdf) which outlines the kind of student we hope to graduate. This makes for interesting reading for students and parents, as it outlines the aptitudes and attitudes of a life-long learner.

A “critical” skill for success is the development of good critical and creative thinking skills. Students often feel that these skills are only required for serious intellectual issues. However, the development of these skills can take place even within the simplest scenarios. “Critical Thinking for the Home” is what you might call it. It focusses on two aspects; “telling stories” and “asking questions”. When you get a chance to bring your child’s attention to something interesting, get them to ask questions about it. Ask them to tell you a story about why and where and how. For example, if you are out walking near the water and see a ship at anchor, try to develop a story about the ship. Where did it come from, what was it carrying, what will it carry and where to? Is it full or empty as it sits in the water? How can you tell? Where could you look to find its name, cargo, etc? What structure does it have? Why might it be built that way? What impact does the ship’s arrival have on Vancouver? BC? Canada? The world? If you put your mind to it, everything has a story. And you need to ask questions to find out what the story is.