(2 of 2)
While getting parents more involved, Stonewall has also aggressively challenged its students, especially through a demanding precollege curriculum called the international baccalaureate. Stonewall is one of 305 U.S. public high schools that offer an I.B. degree--which is awarded in 102 countries and is often regarded as superior to completion of advanced-placement classes. But at Stonewall, I.B. isn't just a way to prep the honors kids. Students are urged by the faculty to stretch themselves, and an astounding 45% take part, with 86% scoring four or better on a five-point scale.
I.B. classes, begun at Stonewall in 1994, often feel like college seminars. An I.B. anthropology course has become so popular that Stonewall offers four sections of it. In one lesson in April, the day before the prom, teacher Maureen Ellis hopped from apartheid to Yugoslavia to India's Mogul dynasty, and hands shot up as students fielded questions about acculturation and colonialism. It costs Stonewall $66,000 a year to offer the I.B. program, but teachers and parents say the benefits returned to the school are priceless.
--With reporting by Melissa August/Manassas