EDINBURG -The South Texas Business, Education and Technology Academy will officially become South Texas ISD World Scholars as demand for a worldly education increases.

The transition into World Scholars will become official July 1 and will serve grades 9-12. Conversations started years ago on how to create a school “unique to the Valley” and “empower” students in the direction they want to take, BETA Principal Efrain Garza said.

Students come from Brownsville to La Joya to attend schools in the district. The demand for International Baccalaureate diplomas also played a role in making the transition and inspired the “rebranding” of the campus.

The International Baccalaureate diploma is transferable and started about seven years ago. It is versatile for students who aspire to study abroad, he said. The IB diploma is “internationally recognized” and students can earn it in addition to their high school diploma, according to the district website.

“We’ve been preparing, we have everything in place already, and all we’re awaiting is just for us to start,” Garza said. “It doesn’t come easy, there’s still some work to do.”

The mascot will change to a lion, with the school still sporting navy and silver. The school interiors also reflect the institution’s mission to create a “global learning” education center.

Students made decorations detailing world cultures from South America to Europe, which were hung across the walls at STISD BETA. Depictions of the Japanese archipelago and photos of historical figures littered the Asia themed hallway.

“We are now global learners … we have to be,” Garza said.

The campus has partnered with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and South Texas College to offer college credit opportunities and will continue to do so.

IB coordinator Victoria Marin said some of the goals of the institution are to “break away from the more ethnocentric way of viewing things.”

Subjects will have more of a global context, and students can see how different parts of the world view and approach issues, she said.

“If anything, a teacher is being given a plethora of things they can now work with. It’s not just this small set of parameters that’s (been) given to them… those topics can delve into several things they find interesting and that they know will be something that the students can connect to,” she said.

This expands on prior knowledge and incorporates their interests as individuals, Marin said.

Students and their families were involved with the process of transforming the campus through focus groups and surveys, Garza said. Psychology, foreign languages and law were among the interest these students wanted to focus on.

“Ultimately, the one that we serve and the one that drives what we do are the needs of our students,” Garza said.

Many students showed enthusiasm and hope for the upcoming school, Garza said, adding that time constraints and informing the community were some of the challenges school officials faced during the transformation.

However, school officials made sure the last class of BETA did not feel “left out” or “marginalized” with the upcoming transformation.

“It was made very clear to them, that… even though they were the last class of BETA, that their high school is World Scholars, that they are a part of World Scholars,” he said. “It’s like turning the page, but turning the page of a very good book, and we’re just anticipating what the (next) page is bringing us.”

jhoang@themonitor.com