Destination: Globals!Esko, Cloquet students parlay imagination into success
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Imagine, if you will, a young lad heading off to his first day of school with his cherished teddy bear in tow. When he gets to school, he is accosted by a bully who savagely tears the teddy bear apart and leaves it lying in a crumpled heap on the ground. While the boy is mourning the destruction of his bear, someone comes up to him as if to sympathize. But before the boy’s very eyes, that person morphs into a frightening demon. The demon attempts to bring the boy over to the evil side by tempting him to get revenge, and when he succumbs, the teacher puts him in a dunce cap and seats him in the corner.
Enter: another character dressed all in white, who attempts to bring the boy back to the side of good. After moments of indecision, the music swells as the boy decides to go back to doing the right thing and turn his back on the evils of bullying.
The drama, called “The Allies,” is an emotional and timely one — one that is told, incredibly, in just six minutes by a talented group of Esko eighth-graders without speaking a single word. For their efforts, they tied for the top prize in the Middle Level Fine Arts Division of the Minnesota State Destination ImagiNation (DI) competition last weekend at Champlin Park High School. Their win qualifies them to go on to the DI Global Competition in Knoxville, Tenn., in May, along with two teams from Cloquet.
Esko’s program advisor Joyce Bergstedt explained that the challenge in which the Esko students competed was titled, “In Disguise.” The requirements are that the students — without the help of their coach or any other adult — must write and perform a play featuring a character who wears a disguise. The students must also design and construct at least two masks, one of which must morph into something (or someone) else in full view of the audience. It’s one of the multi-faceted challenges that DI is best known for, and the Esko students spent many months creating and preparing for it. In the end, it was all worthwhile, as judges commented on the powerful and emotional message they were able to work into a six- minute performance.
Members of Esko’s first-place DI team include Rose Jasken, Jodi Claflin, Sawyer Forslund, Nate Sunde, Madison Marzolf and Paige McCoy. The team is managed by Michael Jasken.
On the heels of their big win, the team is faced with the reality of raising the $11,500 needed to make the trip to the four-day Global Competition beginning May 21. Some $6,000 has already been committed, but the students and their families are still hard at work to raise the balance by May 1. Anyone interested in viewing their performance can find it on YouTube under “Esko Destination ImagiNation,” under “The Allies, At State Competition.”
“Whether they make it or not,” said Jasken’s wife, Wanda, “the team is very proud of their achievement and the message they were able to share.” She added that any donation in any amount would be appreciated. For more information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the teams that gave the Esko DI team the stiffest competition at both regional and state competitions was the Cloquet Middle Level Fine Arts team coached by Julie Deters. The team, comprised of six eighth-grade girls, placed second at State and qualified for Globals as well. The team includes Emma Waugh, Emma Jo Lenarz, Anja Maijala, Kate Elwood, Abby Peddle and Sylvie Deters.
The challenge they picked was in the same category as the Esko team, creating and performing a skit with no talking. The team used sounds, expressions and snaps of fingers and music along with artistic masks and props to tell a love story, called “Say What?”
“This is the second year of competing for this group,” said program advisor Deb Peterson. “They are a very creative, detail-oriented team.”
Their play examined how jealousy can become so strong that a person is willing to go to great lengths to get what they want. When a character named Charlie falls in love with a girl named Anastasia, a girl named Norma (who likes Charlie), gets hit hard. Anastasia only cares about money and herself, however, so a set of twins comes to the rescue to help Norma and Charlie fall in love. But then, Anastasia has second thoughts about Charlie….
A team from Cloquet High School, billed as “Snack Club,” likewise qualified at State to go on to Globals. The team is comprised of two juniors and four freshmen, including Josh Ludwig, Tara Longseth, Joey Gotchnik, Billy Acheson, Lauren Loeb and Taylor Leyrer and managed by Patty Ludwig and Catherine Loeb.
This team is comprised of three veterans who have traveled to DI Globals before, when they were students at Queen of Peace School in Cloquet.
This team chose the structure challenge for their focus this year. They build a structure, as well as a prop, out of bamboo, plastic drinking straws, playing cards and glue. The goal is to produce a strong, light-weight structure (under 50 grams) that will hold as much weight as possible. This year, besides placing weights on the structure, the team needed to “ram” the tester board every 45 pounds. Their total weight held at State competition was 790 pounds!
The team also created a skit that went along with the structure. Their presentation summary read: “Hungry for a twist? Then join Frank, Reuben, Caesar, Pecan Sandy, Pepper, Cashew Patricia (are you noticing a theme here?) and the weight placer as they take you on a journey of murder, revenge, bumbling policemen, and a surprise ending.”
Participants in Cloquet’s Destination ImagiNation program, as part of the district’s Gifted/Talented Program, hold ongoing fundraisers throughout the year to help finance trips to competition, and the school district underwrites a portion of the program expenses as well. The teams are currently selling hanging basket plants from the Carlton Greenhouse as part of their fundraiser for the trip to Globals. Those interested in purchasing a basket can contact any team member or the Cloquet Middle School, 218-879-3328.
The DI program challenges student teams to solve open-ended challenges and present their solutions at tournaments. DI is a challenge and process-based program, and in working to solve their challenges, teams learn important life skills like time management, collaboration, conflict resolution, and creative and critical thinking.
Kids and teens from around the world will travel to Knoxville for the four-day learning experience and competition at Globals, including 48 states and more than 30 countries including Canada, Turkey, Korea, Guatemala, Poland, China, India, Great Britain, Brazil and Singapore.