CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Thursday that Roberto Clemente High School will become Chicago’s third school offering solely the rigorous and prestigious International Baccalaureate program.

As WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports, Clemente, 1147 N. Western Ave., will adopt the program that was created in Switzerland for the diplomats’ children, and is linked to international standards.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports

Clemente joins Senn High School, at 5900 N. Glenwood Ave. in the Edgewater neighborhood, and the new Back of the Yards High School, at 2111 W. 47th St., among schools that will offer the IB curriculum exclusively.

As Emanuel made the announcement at Clemente on Thursday, International Baccalaureate senior Fernando Cotto – the first in his family to head for college – was presented as an example of IB effectiveness.

“It will not only give the students a brighter future, but it will also make the community better,” Cotto said.

Mayor Emanuel predicted a bright future for Cotto.

“I asked him where he wanted to go to school. He told me, and he also was smart enough to say, ‘Can I get a letter of recommendation?’” Emanuel said as the crowd laughed.

The expansion of the IB curriculum at Chicago Public Schools began in the 1990s under former schools chief executive officer Paul Vallas. Before 1997, only Lincoln Park High School had an IB program.

Vallas, now the interim school chief in Bridgeport, Conn., said earlier this year that the IB program is one of the most effective legacies in his tenure in Chicago.

“One of the criticisms was, ‘Oh my goodness, there’s not going to be enough qualified students to participate in the program, and this program is going to actually undermine the other magnet schools and their magnet programs,” Vallas said in March. “Well, we proved our critics to be wrong.”

The IB program at Clemente will begin during the 2013-2014 school year.

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