Ceremony celebrates Ocean Knoll’s International Baccalaureate certification


Teachers, students and community members gathered at Ocean Knoll Elementary School in Encinitas last week to attend the school’s ribbon-cutting ceremony in celebration of its International Baccalaureate World School certification.

The school officially became the second school in North County to be certified an IB World School last December after undergoing a three-year process to transition the school curriculum and staff to the IB program.

The ceremony included several speakers who had been involved with bringing the program to Ocean Knoll, including former principal Angelica Lopez.

“I’m a true believer in things happening for a reason, and I’m so darn happy this happened for a reason,” said Lopez, the principal who had the vision to bring the IB program to Ocean Knoll.

The former principal decided to pursue the program after realizing the school’s previous program lacked a solid end result for students.

After looking at their test scores and a variety of other factors, Lopez asked, “‘What else can we do knowing our students are going into a world that’s ever-changing?’ It was those kinds of conversations that led us to thinking what else can we be doing for our students.”

The Leichtag Foundation gave Ocean Knoll a $350,000 grant to pursue the certification in three years. The money, Lopez said, was used to train teachers and staff as well as hire an IB coordinator, among other expenses. Once the school was ready to present its new curriculum, two members of the IB World School came to observe in a validation visit.

“One of the proudest days for me for Ocean Knoll was when the IB validation team visited,” said Carol Skiljan, vice president of the Encinitas Unified School District School Board. “They just couldn’t get over it, they just couldn’t contain themselves.”

The program appealed to Lopez because it changed the emphasis of the curriculum from the micro to the macro.

“These students are thriving because you’re giving them the opportunity to learn about things that are of interest to them that matter to them,” Lopez said.

There are six units of inquiry per grade level the school works into its teaching. The IB characteristics and attitudes appealed to Lopez as a way to expand student thinking, helping them think globally.

“These are the characteristics and attitudes we want our students to walk away with because we know if they have that, they pretty much can face whatever comes their way, whether they decide to go to a trade school or four-year school.” Lopez said.

The difference between the past curriculum and the current IB curriculum is a tangible one, said IB Coordinator Ashley Tarquin.

“What we’ve really noticed has changed is that in the past when you asked a student what they did at school today, their usual answer was, ‘Oh nothing, nothing much,’” Tarquin said. “Well, now it’s an influx of information that you receive from students on given days and a never-ending dialogue about world issues and events and an overall increased enthusiasm or learning.”