Feature Stories

IB Diploma Candidates Celebrate Extended Essay Milestone

Last month, students involved in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme celebrated the completion of their Extended Essay. Students presented longform essays written on a topic of their choosing, which they spent the semester researching. This signature aspect of the IB Diploma serves as an opportunity for students to explore a special area of interest, while working closely with an advisor. 

Erika Daniels ‘24 described the evening’s activities. “Everyone read their Extended Essay Research Question to the room before handing the official copy in a folder to their advisor. This was bookended by comments from Ms. Eyrich and Ms. Duncan, urging us to reflect on the hard work we’ve put into this accomplishment over the past half year,” she said.

"During the event, we aim to not only acknowledge their hard work but also celebrate their success in seeing the entire process all the way through!" shared Laura Herbst, Advanced Learning Coordinator at MHS. "The Extended Essay Event is always a fun way to celebrate the seniors, and every single year I'm in awe of the learning they've done as they share their research question." 

The topic of Daniels's Extended Essay was the correlation of poor walkability in American cities with high national obesity rates. To research her topic, she compared a dataset from the Center for Disease Control on American cities’ obesity with data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on city walkability. 

“I chose to explore this because I’ve always been interested in how cities are designed, especially with shifts in the popularity of suburban living. I understand the importance of walkable design through my family and our numerous walks, but many people in disadvantaged neighborhoods lack this opportunity,” she shared.

Emma Nevala ‘24 also chose to pursue a topic of long-held interest. In her essay, she analyzed patterns of land use in the Lake Minnetonka region throughout history, with a focus on transportation, tourism, and agriculture. 

“I was inspired by my involvement with museum hosting at the Excelsior Lake Minnetonka Historical Society and by biking around and seeing the lasting landmarks of Minnetonka's history,” she explained. 

Both Nevala and Daniels discussed feeling incredibly accomplished following the completion of their Extended Essays. Daniels described having gained skills like time management and data analysis which she expects to make use of in college. Nevala spoke of feeling grateful for this unique opportunity offered by the IB Program, one she described as typically uncommon for high schoolers. 

She continued, “I think doing something in history is something I’m looking into doing in the future, so the EE gave me a look into that. The IB Program has helped me grow into a more worldly, globally minded individual, giving me new perspectives that I wouldn’t have gained otherwise.”

Daniels shared similar sentiments. “I could rave about the IB Diploma Programme all day, but it has helped me determine what I want out of my future college. I now know the value of the community that surrounds you, and that it’s important to be with others who love learning. The IB Diploma Programme blends subjects and promotes discussions about ethics and deeper thinking. The Extended Essay was an opportunity to explore some of my biology and data science interests, with an important emphasis on communication and a varied worldview. These lessons shaped me into the student I am now.”

"The IB Diploma Program is a wonderful opportunity for juniors and seniors to not only challenge themselves academically but grow as an inquiring, caring, knowledgeable, and open-minded person who's able to think critically and communicate their thoughts," said Herbst. "IB makes a large high school into a smaller community of learners who come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences but have the shared interest of engaging in their learning; the community aspect of the program is strong and an important aspect that many highlight! Completing the IBDP equips students with skills that serve them well in whatever their next step is after high school."

There are virtual and in-person opportunities for high school students and families to learn more about the IB Diploma Programme next month. Visit minnetonkaschools.org/registration to view events and information sessions for all MHS programs. 



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