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Posted on Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Washtenaw International High School opens 150 seats for second incoming class

By Danielle Arndt


Ninth-graders Omair Huda, right, and Sammy Huwio take notes during biology class at Washtenaw International High School in Ypsilanti in September 2011.

Angela J. Cesere |

The Washtenaw International High School in Ypsilanti will host two family information nights this month to recruit students for its second incoming freshman class.

Wi Hi opened fall 2011, welcoming 116 students its first year. The school, located at 510 Emerick St., hopes 120 to 125 students will enroll for 2012-13, said Wi Hi Principal Bert Okma. It can accept a maximum of 150 students.

The information nights will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday and Monday at the school. Okma said the open house format differs from last year’s format, which primarily involved community presentations.

“As much as possible, we want parents, students and staff to interact and … for families to see the school in action because I think in action, the school sells itself,” Okma said.


Wi Hi biology teacher Alyson Thompson conducts an experiment with cornstarch and iodine during a lesson on diffusion in September.

Angela J. Cesere |

Currently, Wi Hi employs 10 teachers, some of whom are part time. Okma said the school will add staff in most subject areas to accommodate the new freshman class. He said Wi Hi will need to hire the equivalent of about five teachers. Some of the existing teachers also will move to full time.

Wi Hi is an International Baccalaureate candidate school run by the Washtenaw Intermediate School District in consortium with seven districts, Ann Arbor, Lincoln, Milan, Saline, Ypsilanti, Whitmore Lake and Willow Run.

As a candidate school, Wi Hi is pursing authorization as an IB World School. Candidate status does not guarantee authorization will be granted, Naomi Norman, director of planning and assessment for the WISD, said in a news release.

When the process is complete, qualifying students ideally will graduate with an International Baccalaureate diploma as well as a high school diploma.

Okma said Wi Hi’s first year was largely successful.

“We are really happy and satisfied by … the community’s response to our school. They have really shown great support for our teaching staff. And the staff has really grabbed a hold of the Wi Hi mission and is holding students to very high standards,” he said.

For more information on the school, visit its website or read previous coverage: Students at new Washtenaw International High School find 'so many cultures in 1 room'

Staff reporter Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 9:05 p.m.

Thank goodness!! Perhaps we can REALLY say that we have excellent schools here. Because so far, the only EXCELLENT school in this area is the U of M. Kudos!!


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 5:22 p.m.

All 4 AnnArbor High Schools are excellent schools. So is Washtenaw Technical Middle College.

Linda Peck

Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 8:51 p.m.

This looks like a very good development for our high school age students.


Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 4:28 p.m.

My son attends WIHI and it is academically challenging, but not impossibly so. The curriculum and faculty work in tandem to require students to develop a stronger work ethic and enhanced organizational skills. It is really a superb program, and by and large the faculty are superb -- a cut well above average. In response to the earlier comment that the curriculum stresses European History -- not entirely accurate. Actually, incoming 9th graders spend a year on World Literature and World Studies (akin to World History), and 10th graders thereafter spend a year on American Literature and American Studies (history). The math curriculum is advanced, and a foreign language is required. The objective for all subjects is advanced critical thinking, rather than rote memorization. By and large, if the student and his/her family buy into the mission and the student is prepared to step up their effort, the school delivers -- with no tuition (other than the usual tax base). It's a "best value" in education in Washtenaw County.


Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 2:46 p.m.

Actually IB schools are found on every continent in the world and are often used to accomodate Americans whose children live abroad. The majority of IB schools are in North America. The curriculum is more challenging, creative, and student-driven. No more drill-and-kill. There is also a big focus on community service and engagement.


Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 1:53 p.m.

Congratulations to WI HI students and faculty for your successful first year. Best wishes in adding a full incoming frosh class, as well as attaining your IB status!


Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

I'm impressed.


Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 12:56 p.m.

The International Baccalaureate program is a curriculum and accreditation program bought from a company in Geneva Switzerland, which contains more European and World history and less American history and social studies. I spoke to officials from the ISD and what they said was that students performed better in IB schools because the curriculum was more demanding. Thus, we are going to a curriculum that is developed in Europe in response to the fact that we have "dumbed down" our standard curriculum. It is a sad commentary on the American education system when we have to go to Europe to find a more demanding curriculum.


Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 12:39 p.m.

Nice! Glad to have this happening in Ypsilanti!

Jimmy McNulty

Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 12:05 p.m.

Please forgive my ignorance here, but what exactly is "an International Baccalaureate diploma?"


Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 3:57 p.m.

This is an internationally recognized course of study (certification is pending for this school specifically) that puts an emphasis on real academic achievement as measured by this international program. This program is used by schools around the world as a standard of excellence in education. here is the wiki link: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 3:29 p.m.

substantial work and college prep, unlike regular high school programs that wish you &quot;good luck!&quot; <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>