“Project X” comes to an end

Emily Wang and Oliver Konopko

This week, 258 students in the Upper Division (UD) participated in a game called Project X. As of Thursday night, there are 19 students left in the game. “It’s the only thing I’ve been able to think about,” Niki Pande (9) said.

In Project X, each player is assigned a target they must tag with a biodegradable spoon. After a player tags their target, eliminating them from the game, they receive a new target. Those still standing who have eliminated the most players by 3:15 on Friday win. This is the first game of Project X since 2019 due to the pandemic. 

Pande first heard of Project X in the Middle Division (MD). “I saw some high schooler playing, and I was like, ‘Man, I can’t wait until I’m in high school and I get to play that game,’” she said.

Gillian Ho (9) also heard about Project X in the MD. Ho first heard about Project X when she was in sixth grade from her sister, who was in ninth grade at the time. “I thought it would be a way to make school a lot more interesting,” she said

Pande is still in the game. “Every time I step on the school campus, I grip my spoon tighter. I’ve become so much more aware of my surroundings.” 

Students have employed many methods to get their “kills.” “The person who had me as their target went around asking people in my grade and almost fully reconstructed my schedule,” Karla Moreira (9) said. Moreira saw her “killer” pacing outside her classroom in anticipation for her arrival.

Many students used the element of surprise to tag their targets. Ho said she waited 20 minutes behind a wall in order to ambush her target after science class. 

In a similar fashion, Pande hid in a stairwell and waited for her target to pass by. “In the span of five seconds, I ran out of the staircase and I tagged him,” she said. “It was so satisfying because he did not see it coming at all,” she said.

Another method to get “kills” that students used was the art of deception. “I had my boyfriend as my target. I went up to him and asked for a hug, while hiding my spoon in my hand, and as he got closer I tagged him,” Jiwan Kim (9) said. 

“I staged a dramatic fight between me and my friends so the person walking by wouldn’t suspect anything,” Laila Farmer (12) said. After her target had passed without suspicion, Farmer walked up and eliminated her target. 

Just as many students went great lengths to get their “kills”, some went even further to avoid getting killed. Farmer’s target shared the same math class as her, Farmer said. “Halfway through the math class she sprinted out and skipped the rest of the class. It was the funniest thing ever,” Farmer said. Her target evaded her multiple times before Farmer was able to tag her. “This was definitely [my] hardest kill, but it was the most fun because it took the most amount of effort.”

Rowan Mally (12), Maya Nornberg (12) and Miles Kuhn (12) planned Project X. Mally said the goal of Project X was to be a stress relief for students as well as a good way to get students all throughout the UD interacting with each other. “We thought it was an important community-building activity, but that it would be a fun, lighthearted game for kids to play,” Mally said. 

“One of my favorite things about the game is how you’re kind of forced to get to know someone, usually from a different grade,” Nornberg said.

One of the biggest challenges in planning Project X was about creating the code. Nornberg said “We didn’t have all of the coding information so we had to start from scratch. Jared Contant (11) reached out to us and was willing and able to make a whole Google Form system with a lot of really impressive code behind it.” Mally said when initially looking for someone to code Project X, he and Nornberg approached one of Mr. Lee’s computer science classes, but the project proved too difficult. 

Jared Contant (11) spent the majority of his spring break working on the code. While the actual coding went “perfectly fine,” Contant faced a lot of technical issues involving FirstClass, the school’s email system. “First, the school blocked the emails because they flagged them as suspicious. And then the first class mobile app started giving people the same target that they first had,” he said. 

Some people were not able to receive their emails detailing their target, causing them to postpone on the first day, Mally said. “Also, we had to reshuffle the targets because people were starting to get too familiar with who their target had or who the person that was coming after them.”

Despite the problems, Project X received a positive response. “I hope Project X continues in future years because this has definitely been a highlight of my year,” Farmer said. “It definitely brings the HM community together.”