Category Archives: College Placement

The Washington Post’s Most Challenging High School in Idaho 2017

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TWP America's Most Challenging High School Badge 1Riverstone International School has topped The Washington Post‘s list of Idaho’s Most Challenging High Schools for the second time! On a national level, Riverstone moved up the rankings from #125 to #116 out of approximately 22,000 schools in the United States that were evaluated.

According to reporter Jay Mathews, “America’s Most Challenging High Schools ranks schools through an index formula that’s a simple ratio: the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school each year, divided by the number of seniors who graduated that year. A ratio of 1.000 means the school had as many tests as graduates.”

Reflecting on this recognition, Head of School, Bob Carignan, wrote to the community, “While no ranking captures what a school does, it is certainly an acknowledgement of our excellent delivery of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programmes. We do the IB right!

In his article on the selected schools, Post education writer Jay Mathews talked about dedicated teachers finding potential in students – all students. This is something that we have always believed and it is why every student at Riverstone is enrolled in IB classes for their entire time here. Many schools make students apply and test in to the Diploma Programme, but we offer it to all.

While not every student is successful in gaining the Diploma, every student gets a better education because they are taking these demanding courses in small classes with teachers who are totally focused on each student’s potential. Every student must think critically, write clearly and persuasively, analyze facts, and apply what they are learning. Ask any senior who is currently taking the grueling set of IB exams this month.

And yet we are more than the most academically challenging high school in Idaho. While not every day is rainbows and sunshine for every student, nor should it be, when I walk down our hallways I am always renewed by how much our students laugh – in class and out. The faculty mentorship, the academic challenge, the emphasis on curiosity, interests, and passions turns our academic rigor into a very special kind of academic vigor that lasts a lifetime – this is our true coin of the realm. This is what is reflected in our ranking, and we should all be very proud of that.”


Riverstone International School is a private, independent school with 350 students from preschool through high school. Offering both day and boarding programs, Riverstone is Idaho’s premier International Baccalaureate World School and the only school in Idaho authorized to provide all three International Baccalaureate Programmes. The school awards scholarships and tuition assistance to approximately 30% of their students and 100% of graduates are accepted into four year colleges and universities around the world. Academic excellence, community and service, leadership by example, international understanding, and outdoor education form the foundation of Riverstone’s educational philosophy.


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Riverstone International School Awarded Idaho’s Most Challenging High School

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Riverstone International School has topped The Washington Post‘s list of Idaho’s Most Challenging High Schools!

According to reporter Jay Mathews, “The index score is the number of college-level tests given at a school in the previous calendar year divided by the number of graduates that year.”

As an International Baccalaureate World School that enrolls every student in the prestigious IB Diploma Programme, graduates sit for six college-level tests. In addition to a month-long battery of exams covering six subject areas, students must complete an independent research paper of approximately 4,000 words and 150 hours of Creativity, Action and Service. Additionally, students are required to complete a course in Theory of Knowledge, a hallmark of an IB education.

On a national level, Riverstone appears at #125 out of the approximately 22,000 schools in the United States that were evaluated.


Don’t Fail Idaho: How Riverstone Stacks Up

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Bob by the Rock 2015The following is the introduction to Bob Carignan’s March 3, 2016 newsletter to the Riverstone community. To read previous Riverstone newsletters, you may link to our archives here. We invite you to subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.

Dear Riverstone Community,

I would like to talk about the report completed by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, “Don’t Fail Idaho,” that has received a great deal of coverage in the media of late. I have been asked by many parents as to how Riverstone is doing in comparison to the trends in this report and national benchmarks. I apologize if this is longer than normal, but urge you to read on.

The skills identified in the report that employers are seeking mirrors the skills that Riverstone teaches our students: “performing with integrity, contributing to a team, acquiring knowledge, solving problems, and being able to communicate effectively.” You can see our students putting these skills into action every day:

  • Our very youngest students speak publicly about their work during their Primary Years Programme open houses
  • Our grade 5 students research and address real-life issues throughout their 8 week Exhibition
  • Our Middle Years and Diploma Programme students research and form opinions on topics that are relevant to the real world
  • Starting in Middle School, our students have to problem solve and cooperate to set up tents, carry group gear, and prepare meals for their outdoor trips
  • Our students work side by side with classmates from around the world and from different backgrounds; real international and socio-economic diversity

College Preparedness
According to the report, only 20% of high school seniors in Idaho are prepared for college. In the highest ranking public schools in Boise, less than 50% of seniors are prepared. Using the same measure, 100% of the Class of 2015 were prepared for college.

At Riverstone, every student is required to take four years of mathematics and all of our students are on track to have the option to study calculus in their junior year. Nationally, less than 20% of students take calculus, even less in Idaho.

One hundred percent of our students who attend Riverstone from grade eight on will study a year each of biology, chemistry and physics; nationally only 30% students earn credits in all three sciences. Our students then specialize in one science for an additional two years during the Diploma Programme, obtaining a total of five years of High School science prior to college.

Second Language
In the last major study fewer than 20% of all K-12 students nationally and under 12% of Idaho students studied a foreign language. At Riverstone, every student from Pre-Kindergarten forward study a second language, with many of our students achieving non-native fluency by graduation.

In line with current brain research, 100% of Riverstone students from preschool – grade 12 take art and music as a core class taught by dedicated specialists. Only 57% of US high schools require art credits to graduate and over two-thirds of those schools only require one credit.

Reading, Writing, and Research
Nationally, less than 25% of grade 12 students write proficiently. At Riverstone, we just mailed our seniors’  4000 word (14-16 page) Extended Essays to be read by evaluators around the world. My advisee’s research question was, “To what extent did the rise of antitrust law in the United States shape future efforts by the federal government to expand regulation over the national economy.” That’s only one. You can see the topics for the Class of 2015 in our “Meet the Seniors” brochure from last year. They are equally impressive.

The International Baccaulareate Programmes are only a part of our success. At Riverstone, we go beyond, by investing in small classes so that our inquiry-based approach to teaching and applying skills is always hands-on and integrated into our Five Pillars.

Why Riverstone?
What is it that made my family invest in a Riverstone education for our children? Quite simply, my wife and I (a former options trader) wanted to give our children the best probability of gaining the best set of skills possible – exactly those mentioned in the report.

By looking at the above numbers, coupled with our college acceptance success, I’d make that trade over and over again.

Call for anything,

Bob Carigan
Head of School

Class of 2015 Rocks the College Acceptances!

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Class Photo DiffuseWe are very proud of our students and are pleased to share that one hundred percent of our seniors were accepted into four year universities and colleges. Many of these colleges have offered our students merit scholarships, course credits, or advanced class standings in acknowledgement of the rigor of the the IB Diploma Programme.

If you’d like to get to know the Class of 2015 better, download our Meet the Seniors brochure here.

Congratulations to the Class of 2015 for being accepted into the following colleges and universities:

Boise State University Honors College
Brown University
California Polytechnic State University (2)
Carnegie Melon University
Carroll College
Chapman University (2)
Claremont McKenna College (3)
College of Idaho (2)
Colorado College
Colorado School of Mines (2)
Cornell University
Creighton University
DePauw University
Fordham University
Hult International Business School
Illinois Institute of Technology
Ithaca College
Jacksonville University
Lehigh University
Linfield College (2)
Montana State University
Muhlenberg College (2)
New York University
New York University, Abu Dhabi
Occidental College
Pacific University (4)
Purdue University
Reed College
San Diego State University
Santa Clara University (2)
Seattle University (2)
Seattle Pacific University
St. Mary’s College of California (3)
St. Michael’s College
Stanford University
Swarthmore College
University of Arizona
University of California, Berkley
University of California, Los Angeles (2)
University of California, San Diego
University of California, Santa Cruz
University of Chicago
University of Colorado, Denver
University of Denver
University of Idaho Honors Program
University of Maine
University of Michigan
University of Montana
University of Oregon Clark Honors College
University of Puget Sound (5)
University of the Redlands (3)
University of Rochester
University of San Diego
University of Southern California (2)
University of Texas, Austin Honors Program
University of Tulsa
University of Vermont (3)
University of Washington
Ursinus College (2)
Whitworth College
Willamette University (3)
Yale University

Commencement Exercises for the Class of 2013

By | Academic Excellence, Athletics, College Placement, Community & Service, High School, IB, International Understanding, Leadership by Example, Outdoor Education | No Comments

The Class of 2013 was honored this past week during Riverstone’s Senior Dessert and Commencement Exercises.

The tradition of a Senior Dessert began with the first graduating class in which graduates, families, and staff gathered to share memories and best wishes for the future. True to history, this year’s event was wonderful, and even included a personal message for one of the graduates arriving via video from his older sister who is studying abroad in Istanbul! We also had several Riverstone alumni in the audience. Check our school facebook page for photos.

Commencement Exercises were held on Thursday, May 23 in the Kennedy Gymnasium. You will notice that Riverstone graduates wear different colored caps; each student chooses their own color, reflecting their individuality within the larger class. Again, Riverstone continued its special tradition of a teacher speaking about each graduate, as well as each graduate having the opportunity to reflect upon their time at Riverstone. The speeches were personal, motivating, funny, and memorable. More photos will be posted on the school’s facebook page as well.

Thank you to the families, friends, staff, and other members of the Riverstone community who joined us in these celebrations. Your support is what makes our school truly special.

Commencement Exercises

By | Academic Excellence, College Placement, Community & Service, High School, IB, International Understanding, Leadership by Example, Outdoor Education | No Comments

The Class of 2012 celebrated their graduation from high school with family and friends at last Thursday’s Commencement Exercises. Teachers shared memories and stories about each student, and every student spoke about their experience at Riverstone. As always, it was a magical event, reminding all of us why Riverstone is a unique school and why our students are such amazing individuals.

They will be missed next year but we wish them all the best as they head off to college.

To view a listing of the colleges and universities world-wide that they have been admitted to, please visit our website. The Class of 2012 continues our tradition of a 100% acceptance rate into colleges and universities!

Our College Counseling Expands Around the World

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High school College Counseling Assistant and IB English teacher, Gretchen Arguedas, had the opportunity to visit New York University’s new campus in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  Gretchen was one of seventeen college counseling professionals from around the country invited to tour NYU Abu Dhabi’s campus, meet students and faculty, attend a dinner with NYU’s president, John Sexton, and explore Abu Dhabi.

NYU Abu Dhabi’s student body currently consists of 161 students hailing from sixty different countries.  Eventually, the school will build enrollment to around 2000 students.  Admission to NYUAD is highly selective, and around 2% of last year’s applicants were granted admission.  The school describes itself as “The World’s Honors College” and aims to “embody a new paradigm in higher education for a global world” and “be a center of innovative undergraduate and graduate education and of distinctive scholarship, research, and artistic activity.” (NYUAD website and mission statement)

Gretchen came away from the experience completely impressed with the caliber and diversity of the students attending NYUAD.  Riverstone is excited to host representatives from NYUAB on May 9th.  Representatives will present information on NYUAD, NYU New York, and NYU Shanghai, which is scheduled to open in 2013.

Enjoy Gretchen’s photos from her trip!


Meet the Seniors

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Thank you to the Parents’ Association for hosting this year’s Meet the Seniors! The seniors shared where they are going to college, what their IB Extended Essay topics were, what their favorite aspects of Riverstone were, how they navigated the college application process, and gave advice for the younger high school students.  Universally, our students thanked their teachers for their support and guidance.

Next up for our seniors: IB exams. Good luck!