"A World of Learning"
|1020 E. Square Lake Road
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Oakland County, 48304-1957
|School type||Public, Magnet High School|
|School district||Bloomfield Hills School District|
|Color(s)||Navy blue and Silver
The International Academy (IA) is a high school with its main campus located in Bloomfield Township, Oakland County, Michigan, with additional campuses in White Lake Township, Michigan and Troy, Michigan. It is a public, tuition-free school of choice for students across Oakland County. Students are required to earn both high school and International Baccalaureate (IB) diplomas. According to IA, 93% of the Class of 2012 earned IB diplomas, as compared to the world average that year of 78%. According to an article from 2004, 88% of enrolled students go on to earn IB degrees.
The school was founded at the initiative of Lambert Okma, who proposed the school in 1992. Okma previously taught economics at Bloomfield Hills Lahser High School. International Academy opened in August 1996 with Okma as principal, and the school had its first graduates in May 2000. The school is officially hosted by the Bloomfield Hills School District.
Okma retired from his position as principal at the end of the 2008-09 year, though he continues to work as an IB consultant for other districts.
IA was recognized by Newsweek magazine as the top public school in the nation in 2003, second in 2004, second in 2005, ninth in 2006, seventh in 2007, twelfth in 2008, second in 2009, 25th in 2010, 20th in 2011, 5th in 2012, 18th in 2013, and 9th in 2014. Newsweek's standings were based on the number of IB (International Baccalaureate) or AP (Advanced Placement) tests that the school averaged per graduating senior. The IA's high rankings are due to the full diploma program being required of all students, meaning they each sit for at least 6 IB exams in May of their senior year. Each senior therefore takes at least six IB tests (in addition to the Theory of Knowledge course; Creativity, Action, & Service hours; and Extended Essay requirements), giving the school a high average number of IB tests.
IA was recognized by the U.S. News & World Report as the second-best public high school in the nation in December 2009. Again earning this #2 ranking in 2011. In 2014, IA dropped down to 9th ranking. The U.S. news used "quality-adjusted tests per student" as the criteria. The International Academy was also named the best public IB program in the country, with an "IB Diploma per Grade 12 student enrolled" rate of 90.4%.
According to IA, the Class of 2011 average SAT scores were 629 for Critical Reading, 675 for Math, and 643 for Writing. The average ACT composite score was a 28.9. In addition, 44 members (21%) of the Class of 2011 were named National Merit Scholars, 21 of whom were named Semifinalists and 23 of whom were named Commended Scholars.
Students are selected by lottery among the applicants. In 2004, the school enrollment was 576. International Academy has an extended school year (205 days) and an extended school day. At the end of the school day at 2:35, many students go home, but many opt to stay to participate in after-school clubs, extra classes (jazz band or full orchestra), or meet with teachers and friends. Students may also participate in activities at their home schools. Students typically only participate in activities at their home high schools that the International Academy does not offer, including sports teams and marching bands.
Some of the extracurricular activities offered at IA's central campus include FIRST Robotics; buildOn (formerly known as Building with Books); Science Olympiad; scuba diving classes and international dive trips; Biology and Physics Olympiads; Political Debate Club; Model United Nations; Quiz Bowl; the Phoenix Theatre Company; Forensics; various ethnic organizations such as the Indian-American Student Association, the Asian Student Association, and the Black Student Association; religious organizations such as the Christian Student Initiative and the Muslim Student Association; a Gay-Straight-Whatever Alliance; an active photography club; DECA; GTRP (The Guild of Tabletop RPG Players); and various environmental groups, such as GREEN Group. The International Academy also has chapters of various honor societies, including National Honor Society, French Honor Society, German Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, and the Quill and Scroll Honor Society. The western campus has many of the same activities, including a Model UN team and Science Olympiad. However, many extracurricular activities at IA West are done in conjunction with the activities offered at Lakeland High School.
The FIRST Robotics - Team 469: Las Guerrillas - won the international FIRST Robotics Competition twice, once in 2003 and once in 2014. Team 469 was Michigan State Champions in 2010, 2011, and 2012.
An IA team won the Michigan region of the 2006 High School Fed Challenge.
An IA economics team won the Euro Challenge National Competition in 2010.
The IA often classifies itself as an international school, and has a number of international students - about 10 to 15 percent of the student body attended a school overseas before coming to the IA. However, their families must move to one of the sending districts before coming to the IA. The IA does not have boarding students. The IA gives preference to international students (classified as students who have lived in the US for less than one year), as well as students coming from other IB schools (in the United States or elsewhere). The Central and East campuses have particularly large Asian-American populations (mainly from China, Korea, the Indian subcontinent, and the Middle East).
The International Academy has no school-sponsored sports. When the IA was founded in 1996, it agreed not to sponsor sports teams when sending districts voiced concern that they would lose athletes to the IA. Students who wish to participate in sports or marching band must do so through their sending district. About one-third of the students participate in competitive sports or other activities through their home high schools.
The IA is allowed to have athletic teams which compete against other schools so long as they are completely student-run, with no funding from the school. In the past, students have started their own competitive teams, including a series of soccer teams, an Ultimate Frisbee club, and a competitive boys' basketball team. There are also school-funded intramural tournaments, such as a Paintball tournament and the annual IA Olympics, which consists of various competitive events, including athletic events, between the different grades at each campus. Currently, the primary student-led sports are run by The Table Tennis Association, The International Academy Cricket Association, and The Ultimate Frisbee Club.
The Central Campus's classrooms are organized by subjects into different hallways: the 100 hallways house the foreign language, music, and Theory of Knowledge classrooms; the 200 hallway houses the math and science classrooms; the 300 hallway houses the social studies classrooms, as well as the art room; and the 400 wing houses the English classrooms. The school also has an all-purpose room, called the International Student Center (ISC), where the school holds assemblies, Adventure Challenge classes, school plays, large social events, such as dances, and where students eat lunch every day. The ISC's size (about the size of an elementary school gymnasium) limits it from holding larger events, such as large musical concerts or graduations. These are normally held at other schools, such as Lahser High School (where orchestra, band, and choir concerts are held), Lake Orion High School (where the IA graduation ceremony was held through 2009) and Lakeland High School (where the graduation ceremonies are now held). The Okma campus also suffers from rat or mice problems as well as ant infestations and a giant wolf spider problem.
Districts which send students to the Central Campus include Bloomfield Hills, Berkley, Birmingham, Clawson, Lake Orion, Rochester, Royal Oak, Walled Lake, Waterford and West Bloomfield. The Farmington and Oxford districts have recently chosen to leave the IA consortium in order to start their own IB programs.
The West campus was the first satellite campus of the International Academy. A satellite campus had been considered as early as 2003. This school first held classes in August 2006, and its first graduating class was the Class of 2010. The IA West campus is located inside Lakeland High School of Huron Valley Schools. The sending districts include Huron Valley and South Lyon. Their experience is similar to that of students on the Central Campus, with the exception of fewer options in foreign language (Spanish and French only). Like at the Central Campus, students play sports through their sending districts. Huron Valley Schools has opened up 10 spots for students in districts outside the International Academy consortium, including students living outside of Oakland County, for the Class of 2011 onward. Though initially successful, the West campus has seen its number of consortium districts dwindle as a result of district budget cuts and more districts (such as Fenton) opting to start their own IB programs rather than send students to the IA.
IA has set up an Eastern campus in Troy, in the former Baker Middle School building. Classes were first held in the 2008-2009 school year. Like the other two campuses, the school began with one freshman class and has added another each year. The first graduating class graduated in 2012. This campus includes students from the Troy School District as well as school-of-choice students from other districts. Troy students through the Class of 2011 attended the Central campus. The Eastern campus's student body is about the same size as the Central campus, and students have access to the same classes as students at the Central campus, save for German, which was not added to the curriculum as the first incoming freshman class did not have a sufficient amount of people who were interested in the course. The Eastern campus offers the same fine arts options as the Central campus. The Troy School District has also started Primary Years and Middle Years programs in some of its elementary and middle schools. Currently, the IA East building is undergoing renovations to upgrade office area and science laboratories.
On July 16, 2009 it was announced that the Central Campus was to be renamed the Lambert S. Okma Campus of the International Academy to honor the retired principal and founder.
- International Baccalaureate
- Bloomfield Hills School District
- Huron Valley School District
- Troy School District
- International school
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