“During my junior and senior years, I was quite dramatic about the amount of work required for the IB classes and especially for the diploma. In hindsight, it was very similar to a year of college courses,” said a Portage Public Schools Graduate of 2005, who attended both John Carroll University and University of Central Florida after high school. Here at Portage Northern, most students and teachers have come to the conclusion that the two-year IB Science classes — IB Biology, IB Chemistry, and IB Physics — are the most difficult IB courses that this school offers. Because of this, IB Science students tend to be incredibly hard working students, no matter how frustrating their classes become. Of course, there is still a great debate on which specific class is the hardest, and each of them can have a strong argument. That being said, students of each of the IB Science courses have much to say about their experience in the classes.
Students in the IB Biology classes share that even when they are struck with difficulty in the course, they all come together in a collective group. IB Biology teacher Jessica Clark shares, “[The students] rely on each other to get through the difficulties of the course and we become a nerdy, loving biology family.” Although applying content, writing essays, and taking difficult tests are stressful for these students, they all tend to cope with it together. “My class usually has study groups a lot, which are really fun,” said Nic Pryor (11), first year IB Biology student. Because of the strong relationship between the IB Bio kids and their passion for the field of Biology, many of the students love the course despite the difficulty. Pryor said, “It is my most difficult class, but it is also my favorite class, and many of my classmates agree.” Despite any troubles, the IB Biology students can always persevere through and collaborate to be successful. “I love my kids. I love biology. Life is good,” said Clark.
“I’ve been doing fairly well in this class. And by fairly well, I, of course, mean spending all night crying into a chem book and hoping the curve makes up for all those questions I left blank,” said Joe Flanagan (12). Of course, this is how many students feel in each of the two-year IB Science classes, but it is extremely prominent in the IB Chemistry classes. Since the course is so rigorous and intended to get students college-ready, students in this class have to work hard and study nonstop in order to perform well all of the time. “I’m one of the top students in my class, and I recently got a 11/30 on a test over an entire chapter,” said Flanagan. Because of the difficulty in this class, students constantly make sure that they are doing their work and studying their hardest in order to be successful in the class. As a piece of advice for future students in IB Chemistry, Flanagan states, “For chemistry, MAKE SURE YOU KNOW STOICH WELL. You’ll learn it sometime your Junior year and it is the single most annoying/important thing you will learn.”
Most of the students in the IB Physics classes agree that the class is extremely difficult, but also fun at the same time. As first year IB Physics teacher Justin Olsen always says, “Physics is hard.” Since most students taking this course, with some exceptions, plan on going into the field or going into a form of engineering, they find the course to be helpful in preparing them for the rigor of college-level courses. Second year IB Physics teacher Kathy Mirakovits said, “I have had numerous students who have graduated and entered a college science program tell me that they were more prepared than their peers in content and especially in laboratory work.” However, since the class helps students become prepared for college, it has also been quite difficult for those taking the course. When sharing how she prepares for quizzes or tests in the class, Sydney Wesley (11) said, “I look over problems done in class that I write down, but usually it’s just praying.” In fact, there is a group of students in the first year IB Physics class that meets before every big test or exam and has a prayer circle in the back of the room. The intensity of this class definitely keeps students busy and always working hard, and this eventually helps students going into college, no matter how stressful at the moment.
Overall, it is easy to say that all of the two-year IB Science classes are some of the most difficult IB classes that Portage Northern offers. Through hard work and motivation to keep going, students of the IB Science classes power through these courses and end up being better prepared for college courses in their field. These students are living proof that no matter the obstacle, and no matter how difficult a course gets, those that keep going will be able to perform above and beyond expectations in their future endeavors. As said by Clark, “Kudos to all of the students with the courage to accept the challenge & rock it out year after year.”