This week at Clemente, our sophomores are gearing up to start their personal projects and many of them are very excited about it. Personal project is an individual project for sophomore students that is designed to be independent study on a topic of their interest; it is an essential component of the IB Middle Years Programme. Students will work on this comprehensive assignment from November of this year to May 2017 with the objective of developing their abilities to investigate, plan, take action, and reflect. And because Clemente is a wall-to-wall IB school, all of our sophomores will participate and have the opportunity to showcase their work in a project fair in May.
One of the most interesting and unique elements of Personal Project is the opportunity for students to choose their mentors. A personal project mentor is a staff member (teacher, counselor, coach, administrator, etc.) who guides and advises students about topic choice and resources, keeps students focused and motivated, and assesses their students’ work. Our sophomores spent last week carefully choosing their mentors and this week is the kick off student-mentor meetings. In this phase of the project, students are meeting with their mentors for the first time, discussing and choosing global contexts, and deciding on what the end product of their project will be.
Some students have already chosen their topics, which range from politics and alleviating homelessness, to interior design and make up aesthetics. JROTC cadet Wilson Marrero meets with his advisor and expresses that he wants to write a book with the aim of enlightening an audience of his peers about the influences and effects of politics in their everyday lives. Wilson says, “I want it to be something that reaches into you, and you can connect to it.” Wilson is intensely passionate about politics, aspiring to one day to be a politician himself; he thoroughly enjoys writing and this incredibly profound statement demonstrates the high level of intention he has for his project.
Other students have also shared their thoughts about what they want to do. Clarissa Bellina says, “I want to learn about how I can help improve homelessness.” What an admirable cause for her to take on as a school project! While Clarissa and Wilson have chosen topics that aim to reach people in a much broader context, other students have chosen topics that resonate with them personally, or in the context of their day-to-day lives. For example, one student wants to learn about the different ways to enhance and maintain eyebrows, saying, “It’s the first thing I’ve always looked at when I look at someone’s face.” This young lady is taking a simple observation that she has made in her everyday life and parlaying it into a research inquiry with investigation to follow.
Our students are thoughtful inquirers and are eager to learn. And while ideas are still in their developing stages, in this very first week of personal project students are demonstrating their passion, curiosity, and depth. Many of them are even revealing aspects of their character that we are excited to see further develop over the course of this assignment. In the past, students have written books, made movies, and even made stained glass windows for personal project and we are excited to see what this year’s sophomores come up with. Based on recent conversations with students, we are sure to be blown away, so stay tuned and prepare to be amazed by our amazing wildcats!