DOVER — After years of asking, students in eastern Hillsborough County will finally have an International Baccalaureate diploma program to call their own.
The new Strawberry Crest High School, under construction at Interstate 4 and McIntosh Road in Dover, will house the demanding college prep curriculum when doors open in August.
But geography will determine who can apply for the magnet program at the new school, and who will continue to attend another offered at King High in north Tampa.
To help divide the student population, new middle school boundaries were drawn for the four IB programs offered at county high schools, said Susan King, the district's supervisor of magnet school programs.
"That means if you look at the chart, and you're attendance area is Burns (Middle School in Brandon), then you attend Strawberry Crest if you're accepted," King said.
Students living in parts of Gibsonton, Ruskin, Riverview, Brandon and Seffner will attend King.
The district looked at several factors to determine who goes where, including which part of the county should get an IB diploma program, viability in those areas, and the number of students the program would attract.
With the program in Dover, school officials are banking on students in the eastern part of the county eager for a chance to apply. King said that the district suspects some students haven't applied for the program in the past because of the distance to King High.
A total of 145 students are admitted to the program each year as freshmen, with an average of about 500 total students at each IB school.
"We don't have to recruit for these programs," King said. "It's a very competitive process based on standardized test scores, a writing sample and teacher recommendations. It becomes a family choice. It's a rigorous program, like going from middle school to college."
Once accepted, students take a full course load of the specially designed college-prep classes, some of which can be used for credit at participating colleges. Studying under such a program is comparable to taking Advanced Placement courses, the only difference being that students can't pick and choose which ones to take.
"Every course is at honors or an advanced level," King said. "They're all hard."
Chandra Broadwater can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 661-2454.