International Academy

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International Academy of Bloomfield
1020 E. Square Lake Road
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Oakland County, 48304-1957
 United States
Coordinates42°36′11.06″N 83°13′33.60″W / 42.6030722°N 83.2260000°W / 42.6030722; -83.2260000Coordinates: 42°36′11.06″N 83°13′33.60″W / 42.6030722°N 83.2260000°W / 42.6030722; -83.2260000
School typePublic, Magnet High School
FounderLambert Okma
School districtBloomfield Hills School District
PrincipalLynne Gibson
Color(s)Navy blue and silver          
Average SAT scores1304(Verbal and Math)  (Class of 2011)
Average ACT scores (Class of 2011)28.9
AffiliationInternational Baccalaureate
  (Redirected from International Academy East)
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International Academy of Bloomfield
1020 E. Square Lake Road
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Oakland County, 48304-1957
 United States
Coordinates42°36′11.06″N 83°13′33.60″W / 42.6030722°N 83.2260000°W / 42.6030722; -83.2260000Coordinates: 42°36′11.06″N 83°13′33.60″W / 42.6030722°N 83.2260000°W / 42.6030722; -83.2260000
School typePublic, Magnet High School
FounderLambert Okma
School districtBloomfield Hills School District
PrincipalLynne Gibson
Color(s)Navy blue and silver          
Average SAT scores1304(Verbal and Math)  (Class of 2011)
Average ACT scores (Class of 2011)28.9
AffiliationInternational Baccalaureate

The International Academy, or IA, is a high school located in Bloomfield Hills, Oakland County, Michigan, with additional campuses in White Lake Township, Michigan and Troy, Michigan. It is a public, tuition-free school of choice for students across Oakland County. Students are required to earn both high school and International Baccalaureate (IB) diplomas. According to IA, 94% of the Class of 2011 earned IB diplomas, as compared to the world average that year of 76%.[1] According to an article from 2004, 88% of enrolled students go on to earn IB degrees.[2]



The school was founded at the initiative of Lambert Okma, who proposed the school in 1992.[2] Okma previously taught economics at Bloomfield Hills Lahser High School. International Academy opened in August 1996 with Okma as principal, and the school had its first graduates in May 2000. The school is officially hosted by the Bloomfield Hills School District.

Okma retired from his position as principal at the end of the 2008-09 year, though he continues to work as an IB consultant for other districts.


IA was recognized by Newsweek as the top public school in the nation in 2003,[3] second in 2004,[4] second in 2005,[5] ninth in 2006,[6] seventh in 2007,[7] twelfth in 2008,[8] second in 2009, 25th in 2010, 20th in 2011, and 5th in 2012. Newsweek's standings were based upon the number of IB (International Baccalaureate) or AP (Advanced Placement) tests that the school averaged per graduating senior. The IA's high rankings are due to the full diploma program being required of all students, meaning they each sit for at least 6 IB exams in May of their senior year. Each senior therefore takes at least six IB tests (in addition to the Theory of Knowledge course; Creativity, Action, & Service hours; and Extended Essay requirements), giving the school a high average number of IB tests.

IA was recognized by the U.S. News as the second-best public high school in the nation in December 2009.[9] Again earning this #2 ranking in 2011.[10] The U.S. news used "quality-adjusted tests per student" as the criteria. The International Academy was also named the best public IB program in the country, with an "IB Diploma per Grade 12 student enrolled" rate of 90.4%.[11]

According to IA, the Class of 2011 average SAT scores were 629 for Critical Reading, 675 for Math, and 643 for Writing. The average ACT composite score was a 28.9. In addition, 44 members (21%) of the Class of 2011 were named National Merit Scholars, 21 of whom were named Semifinalists and 23 of whom were named Commended Scholars.[1]

Classes offered[edit]

All graduates of the International Academy are expected to complete the full International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. All students are enrolled in at least six IB subjects in their junior and senior years. Some students take IBs in their freshman and sophomore years, usually due to placement tests. The Environmental Systems IB course is also offered as an elective to tenth-graders when not filled by older students.

The only Group 1 subject offered is English. Pre-IB courses are English courses in World Literature (9th grade) and American Literature (10th grade), as well as a course in public speaking skills (9th grade).[12] Students who are non-native speakers are still expected to take English as their Language A, so most have a near-native degree of fluency.

French, German, and Spanish are all offered as Group 2 subjects, which the student studies for two years at IA before beginning the IB Language B class in that language. Students are also allowed to take an extra language ab initio in place of a Group 6 subject.[13] In the early years of the school, the current English wing was occupied by the Japanese School of Metropolitan Detroit (currently located at Birmingham Seaholm High School), and students could choose to take Japanese as an elective in their freshman and sophomore years. However, this is no longer available as an option.

All students are required to take IB History as their Group 3 subject. IB Economics is also offered as a replacement for a Group 6 subject. To prepare for IB history, freshmen must take a course in world history and geography and sophomores take a history course focused on American history as well as including information on the French and Latin American revolutions. A semester-long course in micro-economics is also required for freshmen.[14]

The International Academy offers almost all of the available Group 4 subjects. Students can elect to take Biology, Chemistry, Physics, or Environmental Systems, as well as an extra Group 4 subject in place of a Group 6 subject. This is the option taken by the majority of IA students. To prepare for the IB sciences, students must complete one course in biology during freshman year, one in chemistry during sophomore year, and a half-semester physics course each year.[15]

Traditionally, Group 5 subjects offered at the International Academy included Mathematical Studies SL, and Mathematics HL and SL. IA students, upon entrance to the International Academy, are placed on a math tracking system based on a score on a placement test and math classes taken in middle school. Students who have taken Algebra 1 only in middle school are offered the option of eventually studying Mathematical Studies or Mathematics SL, whereas students who have taken both Algebra 1 and Geometry are given the option of Mathematics HL as well.[16] The IA has added an IB Further Mathematics course for very advanced students.[17]

The International Academy offers two Group 6 subjects: Music and Visual Arts.[18][19] The Visual Arts course is highly selective: students usually must demonstrate a great deal of talent at art, and must have taken art courses in 9th and 10th grade, in order to be allowed to apply for the course. The Music course is not selective, and while most students who take the course have previous training on an instrument or voice, it is not required.

In addition, the school offers the Theory of Knowledge course as mandated by the IBO. This one-year course is divided into one semester each during grades 11 and 12.[19]

It is not uncommon for IA students to take seven IB subjects, and the option is open to students who meet certain academic requirements.

Students also take non-IB courses as well. Along with the normal academic courses preparing students for their IB equivalents, students are required to take at least one and normally two years of either music or art. IA offers two non-IB art courses, taken in the freshman and sophomore year and intended as preparation for IB Visual Arts. There are also a number of musical ensembles open to all four grades, including two concert bands; one jazz band; string, full, and chamber orchestras; and three choirs, including an a cappella ensemble.[19] The International Academy Orchestra has received first division ratings at the State level from the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association (MSBOA) in the past, and the International Academy Jazz Band received a first division rating and an invitation to the Detroit International Jazz Festival in 2007. About 60% of the student body participates in one of the musical ensembles at the IA. The IA also has an active theatre department, but it operates as an after-school club, and IB Theatre is not offered as a sixth IB course.

Juniors must take a course in American government as required by the state of Michigan's high school educational standards.[19][20] Sophomores also are required to take a semester-long physical education course, called "Adventure Challenge," a non-traditional gym course that focuses more on teamwork than on competition and traditional sports. As well as the school's numerous musical ensembles, the IA also offers a number of "product teams," usually student-directed classes that often focus on community service or athletics, as well as school publications such as the yearbook and student newspaper.[19] The work level in these courses vary; they can range from "blow-off classes" or unofficial "study periods" to just as demanding as other non-IB courses, though product team teachers are prohibited from giving students work to do outside of classroom time.

Student life[edit]

Students are selected by lottery among the applicants.[2] In 2004, the school enrollment was 576.[21] International Academy has an extended school year (205 days) and an extended school day. At the end of the school day at 2:35 (or 2:40 for the West Campus), many students go home, but many opt to stay to participate in after-school clubs, extra classes (jazz band or full orchestra), or meet with teachers and friends. Students may also participate in activities at their home schools. Students typically only participate in activities at their home high schools that the International Academy does not offer, including sports teams and marching bands.

Extracurricular activities[edit]

Some of the extracurricular activities offered at IA's central campus include FIRST Robotics; buildOn (formerly known as Building with Books); Science Olympiad; scuba diving classes and international dive trips; Biology and Physics Olympiads; Political Debate Club; Model United Nations; Quiz Bowl; the Phoenix Theatre Company; Forensics; various ethnic organizations such as the Indian-American Student Association, the Asian Student Association, and the Black Student Association; religious organizations such as the Christian Student Initiative and the Muslim Student Association; a Gay-Straight-Whatever Alliance; an active photography club; DECA; and various environmental groups. The International Academy also has chapters of various honor societies, including National Honor Society, French Honor Society, German Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, and the Quill and Scroll Honor Society. The western campus has many of the same activities, including a Model UN team and a Christian club, in addition to some activities the central campus does not have such as Future Problem Solving. Most extracurricular activities at IA West, however, are done in conjunction with the activities offered at Lakeland High School.


The FIRST Robotics team won the title of "National Champion" in the 2003 competition.[22] It qualified for national competition in 2006, winning the 2006 Detroit Regional competition and earning a silver medal in the 2006 Great Lakes Regional.[23] In 2007 the team won West Michigan Regional and came in with a silver at Detroit Regional. Similarly, in 2008, the team won the Detroit Regional, and earned a silver medal in the Great Lakes Regional. Last year (2009), the team advanced to the State Championship in the new district model, and competed in the World Championship. In addition, the team placed second in the 2010 FIRST Robotics Competition. The First Robotics team won the Michigan State Championship and Came In Second In The Global Tournament in 2013.

The 2005-2006 Physics Club is notable for its second-place finish at the University of Michigan Physics Olympiad. One student (Alexander Chernyak, class of 2006) won a $20,000 scholarship and gold medallion (physics category) at the 2005 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and 1st place Grand Award (team competition) at the 2006 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.[24][25]

International Academy participated in the 2013 Chemistry Olympiad, hosted by the American Chemical Society. There were 8 competitors at the local level, and two at the national level. Steven Schmatz, a student in the class of 2014, went on to become a National Finalist for Chemistry Olympiad, placing him among the top 147 students in the nation, achieving this distinction for the first time in the history of the school.

The IA Science Olympiad Team placed 11th in the 2006 Michigan Science Olympiad Competition, their first state competition. In the 2007 state competition the team place 7th, in 2008 they placed 6th, in 2009 they placed 5th, and in 2010 they placed 6th. In 2013, however, the team reached their best, placing 3rd at the state competition.

An IA team won the Michigan region of the 2006 High School Fed Challenge.[26]

The IA West Future Problem Solving group placed third place in the Middle Division at the 2007 State Bowl.

The IA Forensics Team also competes in various district, regional and state competitions. The team has been known for producing state champions and in 2009, IA took state championships in the categories of poetry, dramatic interpretation and duo. The team has been 4th overall in the Class BCD Category for two years running.

An IA economics team won the Euro Challenge National Competition in 2010, after having won the state and regional level competitions as well. The team was made up of all sophomores, and was invited to fly to Washington D.C. and present to Spanish and Portuguese Ambassadors.

IA music students have been selected in the past for the Michigan Youth Honors Band and Honors Orchestra, as part of the Michigan Young Arts Festival in May of each year. In 2007, one student was selected for the band, three for the orchestra, and an ensemble was selected to play at the festival. The International Academy also had a student selected as one of the top young composers in Michigan by the Michigan Music Educators Association, for its 2007 conference in Grand Rapids.


The IA often classifies itself as an international school, and has a number of international students - about 10 to 15 percent of the student body attended a school overseas before coming to the IA. However, their families must move to one of the sending districts before coming to the IA.[27] The IA does not have boarding students. The IA gives preference to international students (classified as students who have lived in the US for less than one year), as well as students coming from other IB schools (in the United States or elsewhere). The Central and East campuses have particularly large Asian-American populations (mainly from China, Korea, the Indian subcontinent, and the Middle East).


The International Academy has no school-sponsored sports. When the IA was founded in 1996, it agreed not to sponsor sports teams when sending districts voiced concern that they would lose athletes to the IA. Students who wish to participate in sports or marching band must do so through their sending district. About one-third of the students participate in competitive sports or other activities through their home high schools.[27]
The IA is allowed to have athletic teams which compete against other schools so long as they are completely student-run, with no funding from the school. In the past, students have started their own competitive teams, including a series of soccer teams, an Ultimate Frisbee club, and a competitive boys' basketball team.[28] There are also school-funded intramural tournaments, such as a Paintball tournament and the annual IA Olympics, which consists of various competitive events, including athletic events, between the different grades at each campus. Currently, the primary student led sports are run by The Table Tennis Association, The International Academy Cricket Association, and The Ultimate Frisbee Club.


The International Academy's Central Campus is housed in the former site of Elizabeth Taylor Traub Elementary School. Though additions extending into the former playground have significantly increased its size, the use of an elementary school for a campus of over 700 teenagers can make the halls rather crowded. The building suffers from masonry issues, several leaks in the roof, heating and cooling issues, and a shortage of hot water. The Central Campus's classrooms are organized by subjects into different hallways: the 100 hallways house the foreign language, music, and Theory of Knowledge classrooms; the 200 hallway houses the math and science classrooms; the 300 hallway houses the social studies classrooms, as well as the art room; and the 400 wing houses the English classrooms. This makes it relatively easy for students to figure out where each class is, especially in such a small school. The school also has an all-purpose room, called the International Student Center (ISC), where school assemblies, Adventure Challenge classes, school plays, and large social events such as dances are held. This is also where students eat lunch every day. However, the ISC's relatively small size for an auditorium (about the size of an elementary school gymnasium) limit it from holding larger events, such as large musical concerts or graduations. These are normally held at other schools, such as Lahser High School (where orchestra, band, and choir concerts are held), Lake Orion High School (where the IA graduation ceremony was held through 2009) and Lakeland High School (where the graduation ceremonies are now held).[29]
Districts which send students to the Central Campus include Bloomfield Hills, Berkley, Birmingham, Clawson, Lake Orion, Rochester, Royal Oak, Walled Lake, Waterford and West Bloomfield. The Farmington and Oxford districts have recently chosen to leave the IA consortium in order to start their own IB programs.[30][31]

West Campus[edit]

The West campus was the first satellite campus of the International Academy. A satellite campus had been considered as early as 2003.[2] This school first held classes in August 2006, and its first graduating class was the Class of 2010. The IA West campus is located inside Lakeland High School of Huron Valley Schools.[32] The sending districts include Huron Valley and South Lyon.[33] Their experience is similar to that of students on the Central Campus, with the exception of fewer options in foreign language (Spanish and French only). Unlike the Central Campus, Lakeland's recent remodeling promises to prevent building problems similar to those of the Central Campus. Like at the Central Campus, students play sports through their sending districts. Fine arts classes, which include band, choir, and visual arts, are also facilitated through Lakeland High School, as well as freshman-level economics. Huron Valley Schools has opened up 10 spots for students in districts outside the International Academy consortium, including students living outside of Oakland County, for the Class of 2011 onward. Though initially successful, the West campus has seen its number of consortium districts dwindle as a result of district budget cuts and more districts (such as Fenton) opting to start their own IB programs rather than send students to the IA.[34]

East Campus[edit]

IA has set up an Eastern campus in Troy, in the former Baker Middle School building. Classes were first held in the 2008-2009 school year. Like the other two campuses, the school began with one freshman class and has added another each year. The first graduating class was in 2012. This campus includes students from the Troy School District as well as school-of-choice students from other districts.[35] Troy students through the Class of 2011 attended the Central campus. The Eastern campus's student body will be about the same size as the Central campus when filled, and students have access to the same classes as students at the Central campus, save for German, which was not added to the curriculum as the first incoming freshman class did not have a sufficient amount of people who were interested in the course. The Eastern campus offers the same fine arts options as the Central campus.[36] The Troy School District has also started Primary Years and Middle Years programs in some of its elementary and middle schools.


In 2006, a group of IA students were caught hacking into the Zangle computer systems and changing their grades. Six students were expelled and twelve suspended.[37][38]

On July 16, 2009 it was announced that the central campus was to be renamed the Lambert S. Okma campus of the International Academy to honor the retired principal and founder.[39]

On December 2, 2010 the East campus was closed for a day due to a norovirus outbreak. The epidemic had affected 120 students out of 350, and 8 staff members.[40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b International Academy. Points of Pride[dead link]. Accessed 2011-12-27.
  2. ^ a b c d Julie A. Taylor. teaching History at America's#1 High School[dead link], in The History Teacher, Vol. 37, No. 4., August 2004. Accessed 2006-09-24.
  3. ^ Newsweek (2003). The Top of the Class. Accessed 2006-09-24.
  4. ^ Newsweek (2004). The Top of the Class. Accessed 2006-09-24.
  5. ^ Washington Post (May 23, 2005), Jay Matthew's Challenge Index. Accessed 2006-09-24.
  6. ^ Newsweek (2006), The Top of the Class. Accessed 2006-09-24.
  7. ^ Newsweek (2007). The Top of the Class. Accessed 2008-07-06.
  8. ^ Newsweek (2008). The Top of the Class Accessed 2008-07-06.
  9. ^ U.S. News (2009). [1]. Accessed 2009-09-26.
  10. ^ U.S. News (2011). [2] Accessed 2011-07-26.
  11. ^ U.S. News (2009). [3]. Accessed 2009-09-26.
  12. ^ International Academy (2008). Language[dead link]. Accessed 2008-07-06.
  13. ^ International Academy (2008). Foreign Language[dead link]. Accessed 2008-07-06.
  14. ^ International Academy (2008). Individuals and Society[dead link]. Accessed 2008-07-06.
  15. ^ International Academy Student Guidebook: Course Guide: Experimental Sciences Department
  16. ^ International Academy (2008). Mathematics[dead link]. Accessed 2008-07-06.
  17. ^ International Academy Student Guidebook: Course Guide: Mathematics Department
  18. ^ International Academy (2008). Fine Arts Program[dead link]. Accessed 2008-07-06.
  19. ^ a b c d e International Academy Student Guidebook: Course Guide: Fine Arts and Electives Department
  20. ^ Michigan Department of Education (July 2007). Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC) High School Graduation Requirements. Accessed 2008-07-06.
  21. ^ Shannon Flumerfelt and Eric Follo (November 2004), Remaking High School, American School Board Journal, Vol. 191, No. 11. Accessed 2006-09-24.
  22. ^ Assembly Lines: Robotics Team Shines at First Competition
  23. ^ DELMIA Sponsors Winning FIRST Robotics Team (April 16, 2006). Accessed 2006-09-24.
  24. ^ 2005 Intel ISEF Government & Industry Awards. Accessed 2006-09-24.
  25. ^ 2006 Intel ISEF Awards[dead link] (May 12, 2006). Accessed 2008-09-02.
  26. ^ Recap of 2006 High School Fed Challenge[dead link]. Accessed 2006-09-24.
  27. ^ a b International Academy Student Profile
  28. ^ International Academy Co-Curricular Clubs list
  29. ^ [4][dead link]
  30. ^ Oxford Schools: Oxford Schools - Candidates for the IB World Schools
  31. ^ Farmington Public Schools | International Baccalaureate (IB) Information
  32. ^ [5][dead link]
  33. ^ [6][dead link]
  34. ^ [7][dead link]
  35. ^ [8][dead link]
  36. ^ [9][dead link]
  37. ^ Shawn D. Lewis and Catherine Jun (June 8, 2006), Cheating Scandal Rocks Top School. Detroit News.
  38. ^ Dave Groves, (June 8, 2006), Academy Hackers Under Investigation. Oakland Press.
  39. ^ (July 16, 2009), IA campus named for founder Bert Okma. Hometown Life.
  40. ^ Robin Erb (December 3, 2010) "Norovirus outbreak closes Oakland County school". Accessed 2010-12-03.

External links[edit]