Destination ImagiNation - Sharp minds

Thirteen Washington County teams reached the state finals in the five categories. St. Mary's School in Hagerstown led the way wi

Thirteen Washington County teams reached the state finals in the five categories. St. Mary's School in Hagerstown led the way wi

March 17, 2003|by` ANDREW SCHOTZ

Sometime this week, Northern Middle School teacher Mark Kaniski will submit to the clippers. That wavy gray shock of hair he ties in a tight ponytail? It's all coming off.

Baldness was his promise if at least two of his five Destination ImagiNation teams qualified for the state finals Saturday.

Two did. The viDIo Adventure squad won its division and the A Change In DIrection squad was second in its division. Both will go to the state competition in Baltimore on April 5.

"They did very well. I'm proud of all of them," Kaniski said.

He's hoping his wife will come to school one day this week to shave his head during the morning announcements. This will be the second time in his seven years as a team manager that he's lost his standing bet; the other was four years ago.


Destination ImagiNation is a national problem-solving competition. Students think up adventures, create transport systems, research literary tales, build load-bearing structures and act out stories. They plan presentations in advance, then think off the cuff when they're asked to incorporate last-minute details.

All told, 13 Washington County teams reached the state finals in the five categories. St. Mary's School in Hagerstown led the way with three qualifiers.

South Hagerstown High School hosted Saturday's event, a qualifier for five Western Maryland counties. Tournament Director Dan Henderson said 191 students competed.

The ultimate hope was qualifying at the state competition for the global finals in Tennessee in May.

In the Theater smARTS category, teams were asked to tell a story about a troupe of entertainers and their live performance. They had to include an "in character" scene, a disruption of the live performance, three elements of theater, scenery that moves or appears to, an improvisation prop and three "Side Trips," which showcase individual talents.

The Smithsburg High School team, one of two in the secondary division, earned a state finals berth with a parody of the 1970s TV series "Happy Days."

The Smithsburg version was "Sappy Days." Richie became Itchie and Fonz was Hans.

The students pretended to be on a black-and-white series that was suddenly canceled. They spruced the show up with color and went back on the air.

Team members Bobby Flook, Arlo Harvey, Kelli Hill, Katy Jones and Joe Rishell competed for the first time.

They began planning in September and met once a week - then twice, then three times, and finally four when crunch time came.

Rishell said afterward that the actors could have projected their voices more. Jones noted that they didn't light the diner sign when they were supposed to.

Otherwise, it was a good showing, the troupe agreed.

A Change In DIrection teams were required to build a technical device, take it apart during their performance, move the pieces along a transport system that changes direction and reassemble the pieces into a second device - all while telling a story.

Kaniski's team, which finished second in its division and qualified for the state finals, drilled for oil, according to the script.

Then, a crane lifted the machine parts into a rocket ship bound for Mars, where it was to be used to drill for water. The rocket slid along a curved metal strip balanced on PVC pipes.

Team members Kalvin Day, Chris Devore, Bethany Powers and Robert Whittington said they rehearsed as much as they could, but were still nervous, especially about their time limit.

The rocket stalled during their performance and the trombone solo was a little off, but, as Kaniski pointed out, the mission was accomplished.

"I'm like a dad with these kids," he said, "like a proud dad with all of them."

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