Pictured are current, past, and future graduates of the International Baccalaureate program at Red Bank Regional: (back row) IB Coordinator Ryan Hilligus, Kevin Burke, Sara Murphy, Katie Moran, Caroline Garth; (middle row) Isabella Ramos, Madison Ciccone, Hannah Haugenes, Skylar Haugenes, Alex Sosa, Cece McCarthy, Amy Lonergan, Summer Smith, Sophie Pouso, Emma Guinnessey, Elise Katz; (front row) Grace Noglows, Sophia Mazzini, Hannah Christensen, Victoria Sullivan, Kristen Wimmer, Sophie Navarro, Ashleigh Lloyd.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

Several weeks preceding Red Bank Regional High School’s graduation ceremony, a smaller one was held for a special group of students — those receiving the coveted International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma. RBR is one of only four schools in the county, and 14 in the state of New Jersey, to offer the internationally renowned IB program.

The school’s IB coordinator Ryan Hilligus addressed the seventh RBR IB graduating class, asking that the students reflect on their “two intense years” in which they attended over 1,000 hours of IB classes and approximately 20 hours of exams; wrote thousands of words of extended essays and completed over 4,000 hours of creativity, activity, and service efforts.

The day before the ceremony, Hilligus welcomed ten alumni of the RBR IB program, who circulated among the high school students, reinforcing the benefits of their hard work as well as to inspire new recruits to the program.

Initially, the alumni expressed how just having the diploma facilitated the entire college acceptance process, enhanced scholarship opportunities and earned them cost-saving college credit.

“It helped with my acceptances,” said Sara Murphy, currently a sophomore at Providence College in Rhode Island. “I was accepted to 5 of the 6 schools I applied to, and I got the scholarship money I needed. While my boyfriend had the same GPA as me and AP classes, I received $10,000 more in scholarship money…I believe my scholarship was very much impacted by the IB diploma.”

Over and over, the alumni stressed the real benefit of the program, in that it better prepared them for college.

Caroline Garth, a graduate who will be attending Georgetown Law School in September, emphasized the benefits of the program in preparing students for college; observing that “I was able to manage well my workload in my freshmen year while a lot of kids from super impressive prep schools were really stressing out.”

Also visiting the alumni that day were lower classmen who are considering taking the two year program, which begins in the junior year. The alumni explained to them that, in addition to the many benefits of getting into college, preparation for college and the economic advantage to receiving college credit, there was one other very important benefit realized during their high school years — that being the close camaraderie they would build with this small cohort of fellow students.