This past weekend, students from five KCS elementary schools participated in the Tennessee Destination Imagination (DI) state tournament at Nolensville High School, near Nashville. The state-level competition caps a year of creative problem solving by teams of innovative thinkers from Kennedy, Adams, Johnson, Jackson, and Jefferson Elementary Schools. All teams did extremely well at the state tournament, with a group from Jefferson Elementary finishing second in their division, qualifying them for the Global DI Finals in May!
In this week’s Saturday Six, let’s learn more about DI and the talented Jefferson students that will represent their school and KCS in the upcoming global championships.
- What is Destination Imagination? The mission and vision of Destination Imagination is “To teach students the creative process and empower them with the skills needed to succeed in an ever-changing world.” Students participating in DI receive a complex challenge each year and spend countless hours working out solutions to these problems. The challenges require numerous skill sets and encourage students to solve problems in innovative and novel ways. With the driving force being creativity, DI allows opportunities for all students to shine.
- How has Jefferson been a part of DI in the past? Jefferson has competed in Destination Imagination for three years. This year, two teams are competing in the category of “Improv,” where students are given various scenarios and characters and have to perform a skit with very little time to plan. The Jefferson Improv Maniacs (Hunter Wells, Will Mayhew, Jakob Price, Dallin Smith, Nikki Louthan, Ruthie Cinnamon, and Tori Wright) and Purritos (Aidan Ponasik, Ben Painter, Ava Burris, Audrey Hammonds, Megan Hall, Abigal Presnell, and Mark Sago) are both teams composed of first-year DI participants. The Purritos qualified for the Global Finals by placing second in their division at the state tournament!
- Practice Makes Perfect. DI teams practice every week. Students have different strengths and skills which combine to make strong, diverse teams. All students can find a place to excel in the program, which is what DI is all about. A special aspect of DI involves the teamwork and friendships developed by students. This allows them to plan and perform skits that are unique and creative. In improv, students must listen, think, and respond in the blink of an eye, as there is no script. This is an extremely difficult skill to master, but students have really made an effort to build team chemistry, which allows them to work well together. Everything in DI is student led. This includes learning all the requirements about the challenge, researching key information, making necessary changes or improvements, and ultimately learning how to work together to accomplish a common goal. An amazing aspect about Jefferson students going to the Global Tournament is that they did all the work themselves!
- The DI Global Finals. Global Finals will be held at the University of Tennessee from May 23-May 28, 2017. This event will include students from 45 states and about 15 different countries. About 9,000 elementary, middle and high school students from around the world are expected to participate. Jefferson students will not only have the opportunity to showcase their skills and talents to their peers all over the United States, but will also be able to collaborate with students from all over the globe. This is a huge accomplishment for our students and a once in a lifetime opportunity.
- The DI Challenge: DI practices began with students understanding the challenge and all of its components. This year’s challenge required teams to plan and perform a skit in three minutes. Each skit had a situation that required students to incorporate various characters and perform in a certain genre. All the elements were unknown to the students until immediately before they presented. Three skits were performed, and in each, the stock character and genre would change. This means students had to spend considerable time researching different literary and theatrical genres as well as characters that had to be implemented in the performance. In addition, students were required to use props to enhance the scene. Every week, students would practice their skits, reflect on their performance, and figure out what they could improve to better to meet the requirements. No skit is pre-planned, but through practice, students learned how to better implement certain aspects of their challenge in more creative and exciting ways. One of the best parts of this challenge is the communication skills students learn. While they have the opportunity to be silly and creative, they are also leading and guiding one another and really learning the importance of teamwork.
- DI builds community. If you attend a DI tournament, you will see students, parents, teachers, and many others supporting and learning from one another. Destination Imagination is operated completely on a volunteer basis and would not be possible without the support of parents and other volunteers. It is extremely encouraging to see so many people that care about our students, helping them grow into incredible individuals that can truly change the world.
Congratulations to all the KCS Destination Imagination teams, and good luck to the students from Jefferson Elementary as they compete at the global championships in May!