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South High students win state Destination ImagiNation title

April 22, 2002|BY TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

They're not shy about admitting they don't practice, and they say they won a regional contest because they had no competitors.

But a group of seniors from South Hagerstown High School put together enough creativity when it counted, and took home first place in the state's Destination ImagiNation competition earlier this month.

The team of six is now heading to the Global Finals from May 22-25 at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

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"Our team definitely had what it takes to win," team member Aaron Michael said. "We all know our roles."

Other members of the team are Jimmy Koebel, Elizabeth Thammasuvimol, Justin Warner, Maria L. Wood and Dan West.

Koebel said he expects the team to compete against 125 others from around the world.

Destination ImagiNation is a program in which students solve problems creatively in a performance lasting six minutes or less, Thammasuvimol said. The teams use a combination of art, technology, acting and real-world relevance in one of five categories.

The South High group, which calls itself "Gizzy's Team Playaz" after their adviser, David Gysberts, participates in the Art of Improv category. The team researched five paintings and six types of explorations, such as space and underwater travel and inventions, and then worked what they've learned into a skit, Michael said. They also made props to illustrate their points.

"You have to use your creative juices," Thammasuvimol said. "You can't assume anything that's going to happen. You just have to wing it."

The team is allowed to research the paintings and explorations ahead of time, but it doesn't know which ones it will be using in the skit until they're picked out of a hat.

Despite the uncertainty involved, Warner said the team doesn't get nervous.

"It's all about having fun," Warner said. "It's not about winning or losing."

West said he thinks the team will have a strong showing at the world competition, but the members are not going to be disappointed if they don't win.

"What happens is what happens," West said. "We hope we do well, but we're there for the experience. We think we can compete with the best of them."

Gysberts said the team's success comes from the vast range of each student's imagination.

"They are the most creative bunch of kids, and that's why I think they succeed," Gysberts said. "These kids are proof that South High has a lot of high-achieving students."

The group said the trip to the Global Finals will cost about $2,000 and is looking for donations. For more information, contact Gysberts at 301-766-0848.

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