In little more than a month, three Tri-Town Destination Imagination teams will be heading to Knoxville, Tennessee May 22-26 to compete at “Globals,” the finale to a long and challenging journey. The Lightning Bolts, a team from Rochester Memorial School, will be heading to Tennessee for the second year in a row.
Destination Imagination is a volunteer organization that promotes teamwork and teaches kids the creative process while working together to develop a solution to a problem. The teams may choose a challenge from a series of topics: technical, scientific, engineering, fine arts, improvisational and service learning.
Sarah Cecil is the team manager for the Lightning Bolts, the youngest of the Tri-Town teams made up of a group of seven 6th graders from Rochester Memorial School. The team has been competing together for four years, and this is their second trip to Globals.
The Lightning Bolts members are Theo Cecil, Eva Hartley, Matthew Kennefick, Aleeya McCarthy, Grace McCarthy, Alice Prefontaine and Andrew Wronski.
This year, the team chose a Fine Arts challenge in which they were required to write, direct, and perform a two-act musical play. The play, about an explorer who unwittingly stumbles upon a portal to another planet and infects the inhabitants with what proves to be a fatal disease, is told through parody and with ingenious costume design. The team designed skirts using hula-hoops and plastic container tops, which took almost 80 hours with a hot glue gun.
Jennifer McCarthy, one of the team’s founders and mother to current team member Grace, said, “I’m excited for them. Last year, I thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but then they did so great this year.”
The competition encourages and reinforces cooperation and creativity. This team has been together since third grade, has grown as a team, and knows each other very well. Cecil remarked that the kids have learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and they support each other tremendously.
“I’m amazed,” said Cecil, “at how they are not afraid to speak in front of adults.”
The teammates have learned to be “risk takers” and to be unafraid to try new things.
Developing their project requires a great deal of research and problem solving. In addition to writing the play and making the costumes, the team must design and build the set, which at times involves hours of work on an idea that may not actually be incorporated into the final project.
DI challenges highlight how well a team works together. Cecil related a story of the Lightning Bolts from the 2017 Globals, in which the team competed in the Instant Challenge.
“In an Instant Challenge, they are in a room with judges and given a task to perform,” Cecil explained. “The team is judged on how well they work together, creativity, and how well they solve the challenge. The team does not know the task when they walk in the room and have to think quickly to solve it … challenges are timed. Last year at Globals, this team placed second to China (by .25 of a point) for the Instant Challenge, so they were second in the world at their age level.”
Cecil’s daughter Alice said she liked being part of the team because it allowed her to be friends with people she might not otherwise be grouped with at school, adding, “You see different sides of people – it brings out your creative side and I like that!”
To reach Globals, a team must compete and win at the local level in Dennis Yarmouth High School and the regional level at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The trip to Knoxville, TN is an expensive one – the team’s project must be brought to Maine where it will then be shipped with other teams’ projects to the University of Tennessee. The teams will travel to Tennessee and stay in the dorms for the duration of the competition.
The Lightning Bolts have a Facebook page that details all the fundraising activities they have planned to defray the costs of going – which can be as much as $6,000, not including airfare, which will be roughly $750 per participant. The Lightning Bolts are hosting an online Facebook Auction as well as the opportunity, for the cost of $20, to “flock” a friend with a flock of pink plastic flamingoes in their yard for 24 hours. You can visit the GoFundMe page for the team from Old Rochester Regional Junior High, the DI Dazzlers (and sparkle), to help raise money for their trip to the Globals. The team from Old Rochester Regional High School, H Squared, has a donation page at YouCaring.com.
Cecil is clearly very proud of the Lightning Bolts, and all of the Tri-Town teams, saying, “They spent months researching, planning, building and writing. DI has taught them so much about taking risks, team work, and given them self-confidence to succeed at their dreams.”
By Sarah French Storer