High School - IB and/or ISH Diploma


Anja Merilainen - Secondary School Principal
Anja Merilainen - Secondary School Principal

Welcome to the International School of Havana’s Secondary School! Our goal is to foster in our students a love of learning that is lifelong, an approach to learning that is self-directed, and an understanding of learning that reflects the fact that every learner is unique. Our students’ safety and well-being are a primary focus, and we believe that parents, students, and teachers make up a community of learners who must work together in realizing a collective vision of education characterized by equity, inclusivity, and personal growth.

Students at ISH engage with a challenging academic curriculum that aims to foster individual learning while encouraging them to connect what they learn with the world they experience. As an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School, research and enquiry are core aspects of the curriculum, as are intercultural understanding- encouraged through seeking and evaluating a range of viewpoints- and reflecting on one’s learning. In their academic classes, students are guided to ask meaningful questions and develop the capacity to seek the answers through training in critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills, as well as project management capabilities.

Students in Grades 11 and 12 study the IB Diploma Program, as well as work toward the ISH High School diploma. Students in Grades 9 and 10 are enrolled in the Cambridge International Education IGCSE programme and our students in Grades 6 to 8 follow the Cambridge Lower Secondary curriculum framework in their core subjects.

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At ISH, we believe that one of the core purposes of education is to empower students to engage deeply with the world around them, and we embrace the idea of ‘Class Without Walls’. Our students take part in a rich co-curricular program, including arts and sports programming; service learning in the community; a student leadership program; and edifying field trips.

Our aim is to equip our students with the knowledge, skills and competencies they will need as healthy, happy adults who make a positive contribution to the world, and we live our mission of Learning to Make a Difference every day. We hope you join ISH and become an integral part of our vibrant community!

Anja Merilainen
ISH Secondary Principal


At ISH, we believe that every student is unique. Our goal is to develop each student’s passion while fostering their capacity to make change through an individualized, strategic approach. We are committed to providing opportunities for meaningful engagement for all of our students, encouraging them to immerse themselves in a comprehensive range of subjects and learning experiences.

Dual Paths
ISH offers dual paths to graduation.
>The International Baccalaureate Diploma provides a path for students in Grades 11 and 12 who seek entry into the world's leading colleges and universities. Widely known as the most challenging and respected pre-university course of study anywhere in the world, the IB is the only universal curriculum where students are graded according to international benchmarks.
>The ISH Diploma is an internationally recognized, American-style high school diploma accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Over the course of grades 9-12, students complete a range of courses to ensure they meet all ISH graduation requirements. The ISH Diploma provides an option for those who do not wish to submit to the demands of the IB Program. The ISH Diploma is integrated with the IB in that students may undertake individual IB courses, however they do not complete the same core requirements or sit for external exams.
ISH graduates with either diploma are prepared for admission to colleges and universities throughout the world.

IB Diploma Program

The Diploma Program of the International Baccalaureate (IB Diploma) is a course of study for the last two years of High School. It leads to external examinations and the award of a diploma which is recognized by leading universities around the world.
The aim of all IB programmes is to develop internationally minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world.

>The Courses

IB Diploma candidates are required to study six subjects. Three subjects are taught at Higher Level (HL), the others at Standard Level (SL). HL courses represent 240 teaching hours; SL courses represent 150 teaching hours.

One subject is chosen from each of the following groups:
• Group 1: Studies in Language and Literature
• Group 2: Language Acquisition
• Group 3: Individuals and Societies
• Group 4: Sciences
• Group 5: Mathematics
• Group 6: Arts

Students may take one subject from each of the six groups, or one subject each from Groups 1 – 5 and a second subject from Groups 3 – 4.

>The Core

All IB Diploma students participate in three extended activities which reflect the core elements of the curriculum. Personal reflection on all of these activities is a fundamental principle that lies at the heart of the IB Diploma Program.
The core elements are
• Theory of Knowledge (ToK), in which students reflect on the nature of knowledge and on how we know what we claim to know;
• The Extended Essay, in which students engage in an independent, self-directed piece of research, finishing with a 4,000-word paper;
• Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS), an experiential learning component in which students complete a project related to these three concepts.

ISH Diploma Program

Students in the ISH Diploma Program undertake a parallel curriculum to the IB in that they participate in the same courses as those in the IB Program, however their individual learning goals and assessments differ. ISH Diploma candidates do not complete the Extended Essay or ToK. All ISH graduates participate in extensive service learning, artistic and physically engaging activities through the CAS program, which serves as a holistic complement to their academic programming.

As they prepare for the challenges at university and beyond, our dedicated and compassionate faculty are there to challenge, support and grow with our students, every step of the way. Regardless of the path they choose, students leave ISH truly prepared to Make a Difference.