Top 100 Best High Schools 2013– International School – Newsweek – 31/100
School Classification: L
Grad Rate(%): 100
AP/IB Tests: 1.5
College Bound(%): 100
AVG SAT: 1867
AVG ACT: 27.9
SUBS LUNCH: 5
AVG AP SCORE: 3.3
NEWSWEEK SCORE: 3.82
International School (IS) is a 6th–12th in the Bellevue School District. The mascot for Bellevue International School is the Great Titan, and the logo is a Greek tripod with an ascending flame. International school is not a “true” international school with students from across the globe, but rather challenges students to think globally. Admission is based on a lottery of all incoming 6th graders who apply. International School is not affiliated with the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA), and students participate in sports at their home school within the district.
International School was founded in 1991 by Bellevue teachers. Funded with a competitive $300,000 grant from the “Schools for the 21st Century” Commission, the six were granted a half year of release time to develop and recruit for the program. International School opened with 150 sixth and seventh graders in the fall of 1991, housed in an old elementary school. Later the school was moved to its current location in an unused junior high. In 2002 a short documentary on the history of the school with the title The World of International School was written by Kristen Rosenfeld. This documentary provides a glimpse based on primary sources into the origins and development of the school in its first ten years and helps explain why the school has been successful.
The school’s current principal is Jennifer Rose (most recently principal at Medina Elementary).
A few of the changes that have been made in recent years by the new principals include, but are not limited to: the implementation of a tardy policy, the implementation of warning bells before certain classes, and suggested AP classes. The original “Student as Worker” phrase supported the idea that it was the students responsibility to want to learn, to write down their assignments, and to arrive to class on time. This concept has been discontinued and removed from the school mission, and is now replaced with the focus of creating “global citizens.”
As of the 2010-2011 school year, IS had an enrollment of 546 students. Because of the limited enrollment, students are chosen from applicants from Bellevue School District’s 6th grade class by lottery.
Bellevue International offers a seven-year, seven-subject curriculum, in which students take seven years of humanities (language arts), international studies, math, science, physical education/health and fine arts. Additionally, students study a foreign language, French or German, for seven years, with the intention of achieving fluency, and ultimately studying subjects such as literature, history and social studies in that language.
As seniors, students are required to complete a rigorous “Senior Project”, which according to the school website, must be completed through “integrating, [and] demonstrating real-world application”. One class is dedicated to this project senior year during second semester.
World Languages Program
All students at IS are required to take seven years of either German or French. Historically, about two-thirds of incoming students had taken French and one-third have participated in the German Language Program. Both programs have co-existed successfully since the founding of the International School. Although in 2009 school principal Dr. Bang-Knudsen was forced to cut German 1A for the 2009-2010 school year due to budget cuts, he stated that German 1A will be offered for the 2010-2011 academic year if enough students signed up.
Starting in the 2011-2012 school year, the German language program has since slowly been phased out. This move has sparked much controversy among faculty and students, as the “International School” will ironically only offer one language, French. In past years, students at the school have put their language skills to use during two week trips to France and Germany. In addition to the language programs, in recent years teaching interns from France and Germany have studied at the school for an entire academic year assisting in language instruction and enrichment.
There has been some discussion of adding Mandarin Chinese to the school’s course offerings within the next few years.
The International School has ranked 9th in the nation on Newsweek Magazine’s list of the best high schools, and first in the state for 2013. International School was also selected as a Blue Ribbon National School of Excellence in 2004 by the U.S. Department of Education. Bellevue’s International School has received a top grade in U.S. News & World Report Gold Medal Schools list. The weekly American newsmagazine ranked high schools nationwide based on college readiness and quality-adjusted exams per test taker. The International School ranked fifth best high school in the country.