For Eastern high school seniors, it's a countdown of sorts. Finals are next week, and then comes graduation. But by the time sophomore Andrea Barajas graduates, she'll be walking across the stage with a unique diploma.
"It's going to give me a lot of opportunities," Eastern sophomore Andrea Barajas said in an interview Friday afternoon.
Barajas plans to graduate with an International Baccalaureate or IB diploma.
"It's a comprehensive program designed to prepare a student to do well in college," Eastern IB coordinator Mary Witherspoon said, describing the program.
Lansing administrators are trumpeting the school's new IB certification. It's a program similar to another educational acronym: AP or Advanced Placement.
In the AP program, students can take as few or as many courses offered by a given school. But to a get an IB diploma, students need to take the full slate of IB classes.
"Native language, foreign language, science, math, social studies and a fine arts," Witherspoon said, running down the list of requirements.
If all goes according to plan, Barajas will be among the first to graduate with an IB diploma. It's a two-year program starting junior year. But current juniors and seniors and even sophomores like Barajas are already taking individual IB-level classes.
"We're a little further ahead, faster pace, going a little further and I really like it," she said.
There are obvious benefits of the program for students already at Eastern, but Superintendent E. Sharon Banks says she hopes the program will actually draw students from other districts.
"Check it out because there’s nothing like it anywhere but here at Eastern," Banks said.
The more students that check it out, the better for the district, which has seen fewer students in its schools for years.
Administrators expect 20 to 30 current Eastern students out of the 250 students in each grade will take advantage of the program. But the IB coordinator says everyone will gain.
"Even if you're not directly involved in the IB program, teachers will be trained, there'll be development for teachers, expectations will be raised for all students," Witherspoon said.
It's a development adminstrators hope will further grow the student population at Lansing Eastern.