Everyone was frantically rummaging and gossiping as we were hustled into the cafeteria. Our MYP supervisor was awaiting. It’s a month before summer. Thirty days before we are liberated. Warmth and relaxation are slowly empowering our brain and dictating our decisions.
But the sense of importance filled us with dread. It was the introduction to the final stages of our Middle Years Program (MYP) which we have toiled through since the 6th grade. This five year program is a stepping stone to the more advanced International Baccalaureate system. Next year, as sophomores, we will have to conquer the final hurdle of the MYP– the personal project.
I could feel the tension and rebellion against the extra work stifling the cafeteria. This horror was a requirement, something we must do to receive the MYP diploma. With this momentous realization the excitement for summer sped right out of that cold room. Our supervisor began explaining a project that seemed so broad; based solely on the individual’s interests and goals. Guidelines have always been strict in our education career, and all of a sudden getting to choose anything we wanted seemed otherworldly, alien to us. Our faces were a mixture of confusion, frustration and utter fascination.
After exams were completed, everyone turned in a proposal. Due to my passion for reading, I decided I would create a guide for high school students filled with quotes from thirty novels. After that step, most students had blissfully exiled the concept of the personal project from their brains. But as those three sweet summer months came to a cruel end, the reminder sunk in.
As sophomore year commenced, our minds turned to the start of the MYP project. All students were to complete formal journal entries consisting of paragraphs answering a series of questions about the student’s progress over the 6 months. I procrastinated, knowing what was required of me, but not finding the determination. I was very curious about the topic, but the February due date seemed so far away, hardly a worry.
Richard Montgomery High School sophomore Samara Langsam shared the feeling of delay. “I definitely procrastinated throughout the project. I stretched the truth on my journals although I kept up with them and I only found myself really researching at the last minute.” This was a main concern for everyone. According to Langsam, the best way to avoid dawdling is to “really do something you’re truly interested in. Without interest, it will be very difficult. Choose something that you want to do, and it will be easier to accomplish and won’t feel so much like work. Also, keep up with deadlines you set for yourself, make sure they are achievable and know your deadline limits.”
Every month we were required to meet with our assigned supervisor and talk about our accomplishments in the project. According to Molly Clarkson, the MYP coordinator at Richard Montgomery, “[the project] permits students the opportunity to choose a topic of their own interest, and to develop that topic over time to a point of realization, which is fundamentally what you have to do in college. It teaches you the learning skills you need in order to approach similar independent long term projects in the future.” But most of us are only fifteen. It was definitely a barrier to comprehend the concept that in three years we would be on our own.
As the final project due date approached, I spent an entire weekend constructing it from scratch, something I should have pursued since September. I was able to present it with pride because not only did I feel accomplished, but I was able to study different techniques authors used in the books I had so admired.
The MYP personal project is a struggle to complete, and as Helen Kent, a rising senior claims, “a challenge of practicing time management and organization to work towards a deadline.” However, sophomore Ashley Bakhadj believes that “honestly, I think with my specific topic, the MYP program was a deciding factor on whether I want to pursue dance after high school. It helped me educate myself on what the future offers in the world of dance.”
All the people who tackled the task had to endure hardships, but in the end they all felt like it was worth the effort. They learned vital skills of preparation and research which made it a success. The Middle Years Program project is an unique experience, and one that every person who receives the opportunity should grasp in order to overcome the challenge.
Article by MoCo Student staff writer Shylee Yachin
Image from the International Baccalaureate Organization