Ooltewah High School's proximity to the new Volkswagen plant is one factor that has won it the opportunity to become Hamilton County's second high school with an International Baccalaureate program.

"We have a large number of Volkswagen families that are choosing Ooltewah [High School]," said IB coordinator Beverly Hollingsworth. "We're a natural fit."

IB classes would be recognized in secondary schools abroad, so children of Volkswagen executives can continue their education here or return to Germany with no time lost.

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Ooltewah High School principal Mark Bean, left, and International Baccalaureate coordinator Beverly Hollingsworth are studying IB programs this year to implement one at OHS by 2013.

"When they come here they're going to fit right in," Hollingsworth said.

American students who earn an IB diploma can earn up to 30 hours of college credit before ever entering a university.

"This goes hand-in-hand with our [Advanced Placement] classes," principal Mark Bean said. "They're going in as a sophomore. How much money does that save mom and dad?"

Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim Scales approached OHS administrators to begin researching the program in July. IB classes would be available to students in 2013, with IB degrees available for the graduating class of 2015.

Already, OHS has sent faculty members to observe IB schools in Dalton, Ga., and Cookeville, Tenn., with plans to visit more schools during the academic year. IB standards apply at every tier from county, state and national to international.

"We want to look at the best of everything we can find," Hollingsworth said. "If we have something at Ooltewah, we want it to be the best."

An IB academy would require a core group of teachers from each subject area - history, science, math, English and fine arts - to be IB-certified through professional development training.

OHS already offers a global studies academy, a world studies program, dual enrollment and has a long-standing German language program. Hollingsworth said OHS had a 90 percent graduation rate in 2010.

"Mr. Bean's strong focus on achieving academic excellence paired with our hard-earned reputation for quality, high standards and outstanding test scores make us a perfect candidate for the IB World School," Hollingsworth said.

Administrators are still evaluating costs and ways to pay for the 30-month application process and for annual upkeep once the program is established.

By Christmas, Hollingsworth said, she hopes to have submitted Part A of the application and identified teachers to be IB-certified and teach in the IB academy. Next fall, she said, the school will begin identifying students to participate.