"INTL's focus on placing what we were learning in the classroom into its real-world context helped me internalize that there was more to learning than just getting a letter grade on a test. Instead, learning was about a long-term journey of self-development and intellectual growth. I have continued this journey in my first year in college and am using the knowledge from my years at INTL to guide me."
Karl Yost's education began in preschool at the German American International School (GAIS)*. He continued his studies through the institution's growth, graduating from the first high school class of eight students in the year before Silicon Valley International School's (INTL) merger with Alto International School. He and his family elected to stay at Alto because of the rigorous academic structure of the IB program, and currently, one of his siblings is in the 12th grade at INTL.
Mr. Chapman's Class - Eleventh Grade
Karl explains one example where he applied inquiry-based learning outside of the classroom. "As someone who is notorious for consuming absurd amounts of water, it's no surprise that I always sleep with a glass of water in my room. However, when I would drink out of the glass in the mornings, I found that the water had a strange, un-refreshing taste to it. When we were discussing acids and bases during chemistry class, I realized why my glass of water had such an unsatisfying taste every single morning: as I exhaled during my sleep, the CO2 concentration in my room increased. As I had learned in chemistry, CO2 dissolves in water to form carbonic acid (H2CO3), which makes the water in my glass more acidic and thus less refreshing."
In another example, Karl writes, "In biology class, we learned about bacteria and how antibiotics work. I found this topic quite interesting, so I further explored it as part of my Internal Assessment (IA). My experiment focused on a common active ingredient in most over-the-counter acne medications. Using E. coli, I tested how effective various concentrations of the active ingredient were at inhibiting bacterial growth. Although the experiment was drastically oversimplified and had many limitations, I ended up learning a lot about how acne develops and how the bacterium responsible for its development can be best inhibited."
When asked to share a favorite memory from his time at the school, Karl remembers his service trip to Nicaragua at the end of 8th grade. "Each night, we would have group reflection sessions where we talked about the takeaways from that day. One memory that really stuck with me is our reflection session after we had served food to residents of a landfill in Chinandega. Despite having little to no material possessions, every member of the community that we interacted with was overwhelmed with gratitude and joy. During that day's reflection session, we discussed how the pursuit of money and material possessions ultimately wouldn't lead to happiness. Such pursuits are hollow and are governed by an insatiable longing for more. Coming to this profound realization alongside my peers was certainly one of the most meaningful memories from my time at INTL."
Towards the end of his time at INTL and as part of the IB Diploma Programme, Karl's class served at the GLIDE church in the San Francisco Tenderloin. As part of the CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) project, he and his classmates helped prepare and serve food for the homeless people visiting GLIDE to receive meals. Karl recalls, "I found this experience particularly eye-opening, as it demonstrated the rampant socioeconomic inequality present in the Bay Area (and the U.S. more generally). Although service trips to developing countries can also be eye-opening, being aware of the inequalities that exist in our immediate area is perhaps more important in bringing about actual change."
When asked how he applied his bilingualism outside of the classroom, Karl shares, "When I was an intern at a sailing camp, there was a German student who was visiting the U.S. over the summer. Although he spoke some English, there were instances where he wasn't able to fully communicate. Being able to speak German proved to be a valuable tool, as I was able to communicate with him to ensure that he was able to enjoy his time at camp. There are many other instances that come to mind, where I was able to use German to communicate with foreign exchange students."
After graduating high school, Karl went on to attend the University of California, Los Angeles as a first-year biochemistry major. He entered college in the middle of the pandemic when learning was remote, and he was able to spend time at home with his family and dogs.
Karl, in blue, with his parents and siblings
Karl shares wisdom gained during remote learning: "One lesson that I learned during my first year of college was that everyone else is just as confused as you might be. Since my first year of college was fully remote, it was really easy to feel like you were the only one that was struggling. During one discussion section for a chemistry class, the TA (teaching assistant) made breakout rooms so that we could collaborate on a worksheet. Of course, nobody spoke, and nobody had their cameras on. As I stared at the worksheet, I was completely clueless and was scared that I was the only one that was struggling. After about 10 minutes of awkward silence, someone finally unmuted and asked something along the lines of, "Hey, I don't even know where to start this worksheet." One by one, other students voiced their confusion, and we all laughed. This experience helped me internalize that there are always people who are just as confused as I might be and that admitting that you're confused isn't a sign of weakness, but rather one of courage."
Despite the challenges the pandemic brought on, Karl completed the first year of college remotely. He is now living on campus in his second year at UCLA and is very much excited. At INTL, we all wish Karl the very best in college and look forward to hearing updates from him in the future!
*GAIS is the former name of Alto International School.