IB buddy program helpful for budding candidates

Program provides lifeline for juniors


Jane Pupeza

Senior and junior IB buddies meet over Zoom Nov. 17. The buddies meet every other Monday during Park Connections.

Jacob Khabie

As junior Semona Robel starts her path to become an IB diploma candidate, she said she was concerned about the workload that would come with the courses, as well as lack of free time.

“My main concern was that it would be a lot of work and that it would be just really demanding, and then I wouldn’t have any free time to do the things I actually enjoy doing,” Robel said.

Science teacher and IB Diploma Program Coordinator Jenny Magdal said that she is very aware of Robel’s and other students’ concerns, which led her to create the IB buddies program. Magdal hopes this program will help alleviate some of the stigma that surrounds the IB diploma curriculum.

(The students) are real leaders and they’re really compassionate, and to have that connection is vital to success.

— Jenny Magdal

“The more that students starting junior year will feel connected to this bigger group, they’re gonna feel more supported,” Magdal said. “And if they’re not feeling like they belong, hopefully the buddy system will make them feel that this is where they’re supposed to be.”

According to senior and IB diploma candidate Tamar Gewirtz, the buddy system would have been very helpful for her last year.

“Last year, I felt like I didn’t really have that much support, aside from my fellow candidates, but they were going through the exact same thing as me,” Gewirtz said. “I’d have to ask Magdal or (Julianne) Kaster, and they’re in charge, so they knew about it, but it wasn’t someone who had gone through it recently.”

For Robel, the buddy program has helped her with time management and stress relief, but also has helped her feel more comfortable asking questions when she needs to.

“Sometimes it’s really hard to tell your teachers about everything or ask your teachers because of anxiety,” Robel said. “Having a buddy has made it super easy for me to reach out whenever I need help and ask questions.”

According to Magdal, she hopes the buddy program will be a source of help for juniors and an opportunity of leadership for seniors in the coming years.

“The power is in what the students know,” said Magdal. “(The students) are real leaders and they’re really compassionate, and to have that connection is vital to success.”