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Passions Become Projects

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Passions Become Projects

Adriana Hernandez, Staff Writer

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As Mount Vernon moves forward to become a fully accredited IB school, Mr Nicholas Short, the head of the IBMYP (International Baccalaureate and Middle Years Program) program at MVHS, decided to take on the challenge of integrating the Passion Project into the curriculum.  

 

This year, for the first time, every English 10 Honors student completed the project, having begun their journey as a freshman.

 

Right before school ended last year, 9th grade English honors students were told to be prepared to explore their passions. Each student picked a topic that they were passionate about and spent part of the summer exploring that topic and keeping research in structured journal entries. At the start of this year, students continued working towards their goal to create a product and presentation based on their passion.

 

There was some frustration in the beginning surrounding the 10 month projects, as it was new to the students and the school. However,  students worked hard and benefited greatly from the project. Many who were initially skeptical about being the first class to do the the project eventually came to value the idea and found that they gained appreciation for the passion of other students, as well. The journey was lengthy and there were some bumps in the road, but in the end it all paid off.

 

Student Passion Projects ranged from creating cookbooks, cars, paintings and even creating new programs. One student, Kavonice Tolbert, had the astounding idea to create a program that would encourage young children to participate in outdoor activities. Sadly, however, she did not get to fulfill her goal, which is also part of the learning process. Considering this, Tolbert said she still plans to try to implement the program in the future. 

 

On March 15, 2018, the Evening Showcase took place in the MVHS library. Throughout the day,  freshman classes also went to the library to see what they would be doing next year and were given the opportunity to ask questions of the sophomores about their passions and how the process took place.

One rising sophomore, Matt Chapman, said, “I think the passion project can really help students grow as individuals. I like the idea of the passion project because it teaches students to learn about others and become more aware of their own achievements, and see how they can take one topic and turn it into something great.”    

 

Josiah Arnett, a sophomore at Mount Vernon, was not initially happy about having to complete the project. Later he discovered that “…after actually doing it I was really happy. I got to gain a deeper knowledge about what I am passionate for.” Arnett’s passion is Improv and his project was “Improv: a Confidence Game.”

 

Considering this was the first year Mount Vernon took on the Passion Project, it was a bit of a challenge.

 

The IB coordinator, Koli Short, who was behind the project, said, “I was thrilled with the results. We had almost 50x more projects than we had the past few years, so it was a great success for MVHS. My favorite days were spent seeing what students had accomplished. There are so many thoughtful, hard-working students at Mt. Vernon who are capable of accomplishing amazing things. This project was just one of the opportunities we have to show off what we can do.”

 

Short also went on to add, “I particularly want to thank Mrs. Riemenschneider, Ms. Wray, Ms. Tate, and Mrs. Frazier for donating time from their classes and energy to help us complete the project. But I also have to thank the supervisors for bearing with me and doing what they could to support students. The Supervisors did a great job. I also should thank Dr. Terrell for his support in expanding this capstone project. This project would not have been as successful as it was without everyone chipping in.”

 

Every English 10 honors teacher contributed their time, and their students time, to tackle the Passion Project. Without all of the help and support from parents, supervisors, teachers, and students, the Passion Project wouldn’t have been as successful as it was.

 

Although there were no official awards, every student who presented their project earned a certificate for being chosen to have the top projects in their class, which was delivered to them personally in their English classes by MVHS Principal, Dr. Anthony Terrell and Mr. Short.

Short is currently working with a donor to set up an application process for continuing the project. They are still working on parameters for the application and selection process and hope to have everything ready for next year.

 

“I am excited to get started again, meeting the next batch of future superstars at MVHS. I know the class of 2021 is ready to take on the challenge and shine,” said Short.

Mount Vernon becomes a better school each year as it brightens the lives of students. In the years to come, the Passion Project will expand and contribute to creating a better future for each student who participates in it.

 

With all of the work students put into this project, there was also a lot of fun. The students at MVHS bring a positive vibe to everything they do and the Passion Project furthered to exemplify this culture of excellence and inclusion.

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