By Christine Sampson
For Isabel Peters, the first four-year, three-sport varsity athlete to take on the challenge of an International Baccalaureate diploma at Pierson High School, the decision to enter the program took some careful thought.
“They told me it was going to be 15 hours of homework each week,” Isabel said in an interview. “I said, ‘I play sports for that long, too. How am I going to do this?’ But I wanted to challenge myself. … I said, ‘What’s there to lose?’”
The decision has paid off immensely — in the form of acceptance letters into competitive colleges, skills such as analytical writing and critical thinking, and a wider perspective of the world that Isabel says will benefit her in the long run.
“I think the best thing is that it has prepared me for my future in college and possibly law school,” she said. “It’s a global mindset and I think that’s really important in today’s day and age and society.”
Isabel has also excelled in sports. In tennis, where she played second singles all four years of high school, she picked up honors like “most valuable player” this year and “All League” all four years. In softball — a varsity team she has played on for five years — she won a “most valuable player” award as well as “All League” and “All Tournament” honors. She also played basketball. She has helped lead the way to multiple playoff appearances for all three teams.
But along the way, it took some hard lessons in time management.
“I realized, ‘Wow, I actually have to study for a test now,’” she said. “I feel like my grades did suffer in the beginning, but then I learned from it and I realized that I just can’t study for an hour the night before. You have to study 30 minutes for five days.”
Because she is interested in music, Isabel wrote her extended essay on New Orleans as the birthplace of jazz music. She will attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison starting in September.
Isabel advises fellow athletes who are considering the IB program to keep playing sports because it’s possible to succeed both on the field and in the classroom. She said she thinks athletics actually benefited her IB coursework.
“You have a rigorous schedule in school. You’re there for seven hours and constantly doing work,” she said. “You can go and play sports and relieve some of the stress you have, and not think about the work you have to do later on. Yes, it’s fun to learn and be in class, but it’s also fun to be outside and run around and laugh with your friends. I think it was good for my schoolwork to have an outlet.”