After a year of planning and hard work, sophomores complete their Personal Projects


Graphic courtesy of the International Baccalaureate

All sophomores at RM complete a Middle Years Programme (MYP) Personal Project where they have the opportunity to explore a subject area that they are personally interested in.

Kobina Asafu-Adjaye, Features Writer

Each year, sophomore students at Richard Montgomery participate in the Middle Years Programme (MYP) Personal Project, where they explore an area of interest over an extended period of time during the school year.

Students are able to pick a topic of their choice to pursue. The activities chosen by students range from a wide area of topics, from being self-sufficient for a period of time, to writing chapters to a book, to learning how to meditate. Throughout the project, students complete checkpoints, reflections and supervisory meetings with a staff member to review the progress they have made.

For Devlin Mangan, he chose to build a music stand for percussion marching equipment as his project. He plans on donating the stand to RM’s drumline, which he is a member of, once his project is completed. While Mangan focused on building and design, Diego Varisco decided to learn how to cook different breakfast foods such as waffles and breakfast sandwiches so that he can eat a good meal in the morning. Finally, for her project, Catherine Sanchez selected writing a biography about her mother immigrating to the U.S. from Honduras. All three have shared their fair share of challenges during the process of completing their projects.

“I was never good at sitting down for hours, writing down plans for upcoming projects, but this time I wanted everything to go perfectly. It was most certainly a struggle designing my project and looking for problems I might encounter, while also finding logical and smart ways to solve said problems,” Mangan said.

For his Personal Project, sophomore Devlin Mangan designed and built his own music stand for percussion marching equipment. (Photo courtesy of Devlin Mangan)

While Mangan mostly faced issues in his project’s design and planning, Varisco felt that he had more problems with receiving assistance with his project.

“With COVID, it’s hard to communicate with teachers. Sometimes I don’t know what I’m doing for the project, so I have to reach out to friends for help. But even then, their information may not always be accurate,” Varisco said.

For Sanchez, gathering information from relatives about her heritage was a struggle that she faced.

“I have to call my grandma and see if she has any pictures. And because my mom grew up in an environment that wasn’t that rich, there aren’t a lot of photographs or things tied to memories that they have just laying around,” Sanchez said.

Despite these challenges, all three students still found the MYP personal project to be a rewarding experience. Mangan said how he felt excited and motivated to start this project since he was able to exercise his freedom and not be restricted to certain subjects like with most other school projects.

“I pushed myself to work on this project, and it gave me an opportunity to escape my computer screen for a while. [The project] really gave me a better motivation than our typical assignments,” he said.

In addition, Mangan has become more interested in certain skills that he had to pick up to make his music stand.

“I definitely learned a lot more about a new skill I hadn’t fully developed yet. This particular skill entails metalworking, which will definitely be more of a hobby now,” he said.

Sophomore Diego Varisco learned how to cook breakfast foods for his Personal Project. (Photo courtesy of Diego Varisco)

Varisco feels that he has become more independent, now knowing he can confidently make specific dishes on his own. 

“It’s definitely a relief now, not having to ask my mom to make me something since I can make it myself,” he said.

Finally, Sanchez is happy that she was able to learn more about her culture and her mother’s origins. 

“I’m enjoying how my mom and I have been getting more intimate, and me seeing this side of her has really inspired me. Overall, it just allowed me to get a lot closer with her,” she stated.

Sanchez also explained how she felt more uplifted by her mother after knowing the background she came from.

“I’m glad that I was able to learn more about my roots, and seeing what my mom has become after what she’s gone through, it empowers me to be myself. I just feel encouraged to be my best self.”