At Sumner High School, there’s a second path to the coveted Florida Academic Scholars Award, part of the Bright Futures Scholarship program, that covers 100 percent of tuition and applicable fees for students attending a public institution of higher learning.
Students who earn a Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) diploma based on AICE exams, complete 100 hours of community service and submit their Florida Financial Aid Applications by their high school graduation date will earn the award.
Sumner High, which opened last year, is the only high school that offers the AICE diploma.
“It’s a big-ticket reward for our students at Sumner,” said Principal Robert Nelson. “When they complete the AICE program, the SAT/ACT score and GPA requirements of Bright Futures are waived.”
The path is not a cakewalk. Students following the AICE curriculum for graduation purposes have different requirements than the standard 24-credit diploma requirements. It’s a rigorous, international, pre-university curriculum and examination system which requires that students complete a minimum number of AICE-(college)-level courses across a range of subjects. Completion of the AICE curriculum requires students to complete a minimum of seven AICE courses and take (and pass) the exams for each.
“Our vision is that students will begin the program in ninth grade and complete it by their junior year,” said Nelson.
Since the school only opened last year, he has students who are cramming their courses into a shorter period of time.
“Forty-four students are on track to earn the AICE diploma this year,” he said.
In addition to the scholarship, students also earn college credit for the classes. The Florida Department of Education has established credit course equivalencies for the AICE program at public state colleges.
“This program is a game changer and an opportunity for students to challenge themselves and be exposed to higher-level thinking,” said Nelson. “It also saves parents and students a lot of money and giving kids opportunities that they didn’t think they could have.”
Senior Joanna Milla started the program last year as a junior and will earn the AICE diploma upon graduation.
“I’m really grateful for the benefits of this program,” she said. “Even though it can be a heavy workload sometimes, I’ve learned so much and will be able to pay for college now.”
Milla has applied to The University of Tampa and her dream school, the University of Miami.