By Stephen Knoll
For any school group, be it a sports or academic team, reaching a regional or state level competition is a huge success, but reaching a global one would be quite the accomplishment.
A group of Rock Ledge Intermediate School students are doing just that with their Destination Imagination team.
The program is led by Todd Lowney, a teacher at Rock Ledge, who has been leading the schools DI team for 20 years.
Along with Lowney the team is made up of fourth and fifth graders: Ella Linsmeyer, Kaylie Mikle, Joelle Jefferson, Jo Lutsey, Ellery Romanowski, Raegan Alberts, and Lizzy Jelenic.
“What surprised me was that I though DI was going to be all work, but I found out that it was fun, fun, fun. There was a little work, but it was fun to learn and it was fun making friends. People I didn’t know at the beginning I now have an unbreakable friendship,” Jefferson said.
For this year’s global competition the team will take on the improv challenge based around the theme of “Treasure.”
The teams have researched six different explorers over the course of the year and will be tasked with creating a two-minute skit based on a quest to find and return a lost cultural treasure while incorporating two of the six explorers they learned about, chosen at random, who must interact with each other.
The cultural treasure is also chosen at random as well as a ‘setback’ created by the tournament.
“When starting elementary school, I always thought that DI was to teach kids one thing and one thing only: how to perform. After a couple of years, I realized that I was wrong. I learned so much more from this club than I thought I would,” said Amanda Linskens, who is 2018’s Seymour High School co-valedictorian. “I learned how to get along with people I may have never talked to before. I learned my strengths and weaknesses when trying to think creatively. And most importantly, I learned how teamwork could really help even when there is very little to work with. These skills were not just important to me in the past, but also now and definitely will be in the future.”
Lowney says seeing the students learn in such a different and engaging way is an incredible experience.
“We were working on a poetry section and I was reading through one and realized she had written about Sir Francis Drake,” Lowney said. “It was so cool to see how it had transferred over to school work.”
The most surprising thing about Lowney’s squad this year though is that it’s their first time ever participating in DI.
“We all started out just being regular girls being from fourth and fifth grade and turned out to be an awesome DI team going to Global Finals,” Linsmeyer said.
The girls all expressed how unique and fun the experience been and the excitement for globals is evident.
At globals the DI Divas, that’s the team name, will go up against students from 45 other states as well as 14 different countries.
“It really is like the Olympics,” Lowney said as each different state and country will lead a processional of sorts in an opening ceremony.
Mikle is excited for the chance though, “you (get to) have a once in a life time experience with your friends and parents from DI.”
The Divas will be facing some stiff competition though, while DI is a fun, after-school activity for them, other schools are completely dedicated to it.
Globals will take place in Knoxville, Tenn. May 22 through 26, the Divas did a few fundraising events around the community to be able to go.
From left to right, front row: Ellery Romanowski, Ella Linsmeyer, Lizzy Jelenic, and Joelle Jefferson. Back Row: Raegan Albert, Kaylie Mikle and Jo Lutsey. – Submitted photo
By Stephen Knoll