Students set 'destination' to world championships

By Andrea Ray | Apr 17, 2017
Photo by: Andrea Ray The DI Lightening Bolts, made up of Grace McCarthy, Alice Prefontaine, Eva Hartley, Theo Cecil, Matthew Kennefick, Aleeya Hartley, and Andrew Wronski (not pictured) have qualified to compete in the Destination Imagination Global Championships

Rochester — A group of 5th-graders stand huddled around a plywood sheet and a power saw. “What could go wrong?” asks team manager Sarah Cecil cheerfully.

Well, nothing, if you’re a member of one local chapter of Destination Imagination. The students who make up the DI Lightening Bolts are old hats with power tools. They’re so good with them that the team built their own set for a skit they performed. That skit recently won them their division of the Destination Imagination State Championships.

They are one of seven teams from the Old Rochester school district to win their division at the State Championships this year. It’s an impressive record. The winning teams also qualified to compete at the Destination Imagination Global Championships, held this year in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Now they’re facing an imposing challenge, with an equally frustrating deadline. Each team needs to raise $10-12,000 to afford the costs of competing in Knoxville.

There are reasons for the initially staggering fundraising goal. It runs about $750 for each student to sleep in a dormitory and receive 3 meals per day for the week. No traveler could forget airfare, which the team managers estimate at around $1,000 per student. This excludes the cost of transporting materials from the tri-town to Knoxville.

Each team has set up a GoFundMe page in order to solicit donations.

The Lightening Bolts are eager to show off the skit which won them their division of the State Championships. Together they created a skit where a mad scientist's experiment goes wrong, erasing the color red from the world. The team acted out how the color's loss affected the world, but also did just a little bit more.

That “little bit more” included creating all of the technical aspects of the skit. The team was required to use lighting and sound effects - they went through several different experiments before creating a successful PVC pipe sound amplifier.

The students were also in charge of building all the set pieces, from the witch's hut to the mad scientist's lab. The original set pieces were made of thick cardboard, but the team decided they needed something more substantial to survive transportation to Knoxville.

Cecil said she believed wholeheartedly in Destination Imagination. “Here they have to problem-solve on their own,” she said. “Adults can’t help them. So they might fail, but they learn to try until they succeed. They do things they never thought they could do.”


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