Reflecting on the ISP IB Class of 2020

That International School of Prague students scored outstanding International Baccalaureate (IB) results in the school year 2019-20 isn’t really that huge a story. Senior students at ISP consistently score well above global averages for IB scores, which is all the more impressive given the school’s inclusive approach to who can take the IB Programme. 

In that regard, although excellent, with 97% of ISP candidates gaining the IB with an average diploma points score of 35 (out of 45) versus a world average of 29 and exam score average of 5.50 (compared to 4.6 worldwide), the results in themselves don’t fully explain this year’s exemplary results. 

Barbara Pejic

What is a big story is how the 68 ISP students who pursued the full IB so admirably retained their focus, leaned on each other, and with the support faculty and parents, turned in such impressive scores under the unique circumstances they faced

As Class of 2020 Alumna Barbara Pejic put it, “I think most people in my grade would categorise the year as unusual, given unprecedented circumstances in which we graduated. IB was a challenge for me both academically and personally. However, I think the set up of ISP IB classes encouraged collaboration so that you always have someone to turn to for help, which I really valued”.

Ben Ullrich

The theme of feeling supported is a common one. As Babara’s classmate, Ben Ullrich said; “One important thing that I have to mention is that at no point during my IB years have I felt lost. Every teacher was always there to assist me in everything, which made things much more comfortable and less stressful”.

A third ISP graduate, Albert Čečetka, an ISP student since he was 4 years old, took this a step further, as his whole time at the school had been characterised by feeling supported and part of what he described as “a special community, and a second home”

School year 2019-20 presented challenges for seniors, not just in terms of the unprecedented backdrop of the global pandemic, but also in relation to the rigors of the IB program at ISP, while managing competing priorities. 

According to Barbara, learning excellent time management skills were key; “The most challenging part for me was absolutely always having something to do. I now know how to prioritise and balance all my responsibilities, without letting them overshadow any other aspects of my life”. 

Ben echoed this, stating; “I learned how to manage my time effectively, because throughout the IB programme, this was a critical aspect of it. Furthermore, the IB programme at ISP helped me to become resilient, and to always do everything possible to find an answer”. Albert admitted that in his case, his time management skills “needed more work than most”, but also that the discipline inherent in completing the programme and the support of his teachers had really helped him develop in this regard.

Albert Čečetka

Barbara, Ben and Albert all stress the importance of the ISP program in helping them in the next steps of their academic journeys. 

Barbara is studying Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, United States. Appropriately given the times, Barbara said “I’m not too sure exactly what I want to specialise in just yet, but I’m leaning towards genomics & systems biology and immunoengineering”. She added that “I do think all the learning habits I developed throughout the two years (of the IB program) are helping me keep up with all my work perhaps more than I realise”. 

Ben is studying physiotherapy at the University of Southampton and has big plans to make physiotherapy more accessible to patients back in the Czech Republic. He points to a specific part of the IB Programme as being important in giving him the confidence to pursue his ambitions. “The extended essay was the most rewarding and also challenging. It was challenging due to the length of the project, and because it required constant focus. The ending was rewarding, in particular seeing that this big project wasn’t so difficult after all”.

Albert is currently in London, and fittingly given that he captained the ISP Varsity Team to victory in the 2019-20 CEESA regional championships, is studying International Football Management and Coaching at the University Campus of Football Business (UCFB). Albert plans a career in the sports industry and said; “the international-mindedness I gained growing up in ISP will be almost like a gift in working in a global industry. Also, I feel that having the experience of completing the demanding IB Programme at ISP has given me something of a head-start on some of my current classmates”. 

Karen Ercolino congratulates son Oz on a unique Graduation Day

Ensuring that students remained focused, engaged and supported during lockdown was an unprecedented challenge for faculty and staff. As IB Coordinator Karen Ercolino said; “The Class of 2020 will always be special to me, not only because my son is among the many successful graduates, but because of the way students faced the final months of their program. Much credit is due their teachers who were able to coax the best performances out of our students despite the difficult circumstances. Upper School Principal Dr. Eric Sturm added; “As a first-year Principal at ISP, I could not be prouder of the achievements of this class. The students and my colleagues certainly rose to the challenge and exceeded all expectations”.  

Everyone at ISP believes that the Class of 2020, will go on to do extraordinary things befitting of the extraordinary year in which they graduated. The three stories of the graduates above merely scratch the surface of the many other IB stories of the Class of 2020, many of whom find themselves studying at eminent universities around the world. We wish them every possible success in all that they do and urge them to stay in touch as ISP Alumni!