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williamsport student team goes to world championships

May 11, 2001

Williamsport student team goes to world championships



By ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY

andreabh@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - The Williamsport Elementary School Destination ImagiNation team will have eight minutes to wow the judges at the Global Finals in Tennessee later this month.

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To solve their academic challenge, the team's seven members will be given eight minutes to perform an original play that includes a minuet, song and improvisation, and set and costume changes.

Destination ImagiNation, a splinter from Odyssey of the Mind, challenges students to find creative answers to problems within a time limit.

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The Williamsport team has proven it has what it takes to compete at that national level.

Taylor Angle, Shannon Draper, Hannah Garling, Molly Haas, Jeffrey Savage, Jeremy Savage and Codi Trumpower captured first place wins in their team's division and category at recent Destination ImagiNation regional and state contests.

Their top tournament scores earned the fourth- and fifth-grade students the chance to travel to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville May 22-26 to compete against about 100 teams from across the U.S. and other countries.

A total of about 2,000 elementary, middle, high school and college teams are expected to participate in the tournament.

"Even if we get 100th place, we're just glad we got there," said Jeremy, 9.

Williamsport's prior first-place finishes were in the Anonymously Yours competition, in which students had to create a performance telling the story of an anonymous work of art they researched from another culture and time period.

The team chose an unsigned French biblical page from 19th century France. To explain the artwork's origin, they crafted a play that's a parody on the "Cinderella" fairy tale.

The students spent six months researching French culture, re-creating the artwork, writing the play, building sets, making period costumes and rehearsing on their own time. They also designed a working clock, wrote a song, and learned the minuet - a French dance - to fulfill the competition's additional requirements, called side trips.

The kids even watched movies set in France to get French accent and scenery tips.

Team managers Dan Henderson and Barb Savage said they offered motivation and support but were not allowed to help the students figure out how to solve their problem.

The students' ability to cooperate and willingness to rely on each other's unique strengths made the team successful despite the difficulty of the task at hand, Savage said.

The "great group of kids" rose to each challenge and remained dedicated, Henderson said.

The students have forged new friendships through teamwork and learned the value of cooperation, persistence and finding different solutions to one problem, they said.

"There's not always one right answer," said Hannah, 11.

She and her teammates said they knew the competition at the state meet would be tough so they didn't have high hopes of winning.

"We knew we had already succeeded because we got first place in the regionals," said Shannon, 10.

The students said they suspected a possible state win when judges announced them as the winners of the Renaissance Award for Outstanding Performance. The award is given to one team that demonstrates extraordinary effort and preparation or outstanding skill in engineering, design or performance.

Judges lauded the Williamsport team's sense of timing, use of humor and creativity.

"It is obvious that a lot of hard work and preparation went into their entire solution," an appraiser read before presenting the award. "The end result created an atmosphere of excitement."

When the Williamsport team was named the first place winner in its division and category, team members erupted with joy, they said.

"It was really cool when that happened," said Molly, 10.

The Williamsport Destination Imagination team is seeking financial support from the community to help cover the $8,000 to $10,000 cost of participating in the competitions. Any support would be appreciated, Henderson said.

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