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Local students head to Destination Imagination Globals

Esko’s “Team Wait For It…” (Nate Sunde, Sawyer Forslund, Rose Jasken, Jodi Claflin, Ashley Berg, Paige McCoy) competed in Get A Clue, in the fine arts category. Contributed Photo 1 / 6
Esko’s Team “The Evil Pop Tarts” (Dylan Broman, Jenna Sturm, Dawson Broman, Maddie Graddy, Daniel Jokinen, Michaela Olson, Chris Campbell) competed in Get A Clue, in the fine arts category. Contributed Photo 2 / 6
Team “unpreDictable” from Queen of Peace (including Ava Ion, Thomas Sabyan, Bella Genereau, Paige Williams and Lydia Saletel) competed in In Plain Sight, in the scientific challenge category. Contributed Photo 3 / 6
Cloquet’s Team “DI-Termined” (Marjorie Larsen, Sarena Sabyan, Blake Desmond, Josh Sutherland, Mac Larva and Marissa Munley) competed in Musical Mashup, in the structural category. Contributed Photo 4 / 6
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It can be difficult to describe Destination Imagination (DI) to the uninitiated.

Some will tell you the project-based academic challenges are designed to teach kids how to think, not what to think. Teachers often talk about the way DI blends STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education with the arts and social entrepreneurship. Others — mostly students — will tell you it’s just plain fun.

Like most extracurricular activities, DI has a regional competition, followed by a state competition. Unlike most, DI teams which excel at state move on to a global competition.

This year a total of four teams of students from three different Carlton County schools — two from Esko, one from Cloquet High School and one from Queen of Peace — qualified at state to go to the Destination Imagination Globals in Knoxville, Tenn., next month by placing in the top three in their category.

School, name and members of each team headed to Globals, plus its DI challenge category, follow:

  • Cloquet: Team “DI-Termined” (Marjorie Larsen, Sarena Sabyan, Blake Desmond, Josh Sutherland, Mac Larva and Marissa Munley) competed in Musical Mashup, in the structural category.

  • Esko: “Team Wait For It…” (Nate Sunde, Sawyer Forslund, Rose Jasken, Jodi Claflin, Ashley Berg, Paige McCoy) competed in Get A Clue, in the fine arts category.

  • Esko: Team “The Evil Pop Tarts” (Dylan Broman, Jenna Sturm, Dawson Broman, Maddie Graddy, Daniel Jokinen, Michaela Olson, Chris Campbell) competed in Get A Clue, in the fine arts category.

  • Queen of Peace: Team “unpreDictable” (Ava Ion, Thomas Sabyan, Bella Genereau, Paige Williams and Lydia Saletel) competed in In Plain Sight, in the scientific challenge category.

THE WILD AND WHACKY WAYS OF DI

Different categories have different requirements for participants and zany but strict judges give no quarter if teams don’t fulfill all the “points of interest” outlined for each category.

For the points of interest, the In Plain Sight teams had to design and construct two items that shows how camouflage is used by organisms in nature, and then integrate them creatively in a skit. At some point during the plot twist of their skit, the organism — which has to exist in nature, not be made up — has to be revealed.

Team unpreDictable coach Sister Paul Mary Dreger explained that her team decided to be CSI agents who find a body on a beach and, of course, they think it was a murder. Their organism was a fish — the deadliest fish in the world — which camouflages itself among rocks. The plot twist reveals that the fish is actually what killed the person, and it wasn’t a murder.

“It’s awesome,” said Dreger with a delighted chortle.

Although Dreger had heard of DI before she came here, she had no experience. She did have a background in directing children’s theater, however, and other Sisters in her community (the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist) who could advise her when needed, along with her co-manager Karin Sabyan.

Dreger is now in her third year of coaching DI and said she loves it.

“DI is based on the STEM skills so that’s a big thing,” Dreger said. “But it also gives them cooperation skills. Team building, how to work with others, how to be positive in their interactions — instead of tearing someone down, how to build them up. They have to be willing to use someone else’s ideas. They have to be willing to be a team together; it really builds a community spirit.”

It also teaches them public speaking and how to face and interact with an audience, she said, adding that judges always praise their teams because they can hear every word.

Best of all, Dreger said, DI gives all kids — not only those who are athletically or academically gifted — a place to standout.

“I think DI is probably one of the best programs as far as taking a child, maybe who is not into sports, and giving them an opportunity to shine,” she said, stressing at the same time that it is open to everyone. “But it gives those who don’t feel like they fit into other places ... a place to really shine and really bring forth their creativity and who they are as a person into the bigger group.”

Team unpreDictable took first at the state competition in their age category. This will be the second trip to Globals for most of its members.

Cloquet and Esko also have DI participants returning to Globals.

Josh Sutherland and Margorie Larsen of the CHS DI-Termined team attended in 2014 and are thrilled to be going again, according to team manager Mary Beth Sutherland, explaining that the team had to design and build a structure that both supported weight and was a musical instrument for their Musical Mashup challenge this year. They also had to play a musical solo, using the structure as a musical instrument. Judges comments for DI-Termined’s state performance included "Great team work," "Hard work was evident!" and "That was definitely an awesome performance!"

In Esko, both teams — Wait For It and The Evil Pop Tarts — competed in the Get a Clue Challenge, basically a “whodunnit” skit, but one in which the actors don’t discover the culprit until halfway through the play when they draw the one out of three character names out of a bag.

Points of interest for Get A Clue had the teams crafting a mystery set on earth sometime before 1990, include a technical clue that helps solve the mystery, present in the style of traverse staging — a style of theater in which the audience is predominantly on two sides of the stage, facing each other — among other things.

This is the second time the Wait For It team has qualified for Globals. Their skit is set in the 1950s, among a gang of mug traffickers. The head of the gang, Philip DeMuggs (commonly referred to as the Mug Lord), got ratted out by one of his own. From his prison cell — with the help of the TechniClue and surveillance from his office — he studies the actions and behaviors of his three prime suspects until, at last, the snitch is revealed.

The Evil Pop Tarts' skit is set in 1954. It's about two social groups, The Greasers and The Preps, who used to be friends but now don't get along. When Greasers’ ringleader Danny’s car is stolen, blame is placed on three of The Preps. Using their TechniClue, the guilty suspect is revealed.

ON A GLOBAL STAGE

At Global Finals more than 16,000 students from 45 U.S. states and 14 countries from third grade through high school attend the world’s largest celebration of creativity. More than 1,300 of this season’s highest scoring teams are scheduled to attend.

Dreger said the week in Tennessee is amazing, and not just because the weather is so much warmer than Minnesota in May.

“The neat thing about Globals is it’s around the world,” Dreger said. “When we went last year, they got to meet kids from Japan and China and India, from all around the world. That, to me, was THE best part about it. It took these kids who don’t get to travel much and expands their knowledge of the world, of who these kids are.”

Going to Globals is not free, however, and the teams have to raise funds or help pay the costs of their trip from their own pocket. The various fundraisers are detailed below. People can also send donations to the individual schools for the DI teams.

Esko’s Destination Imagination is hosting a movie fundraiser at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 30, at Premiere Theatres in Cloquet. Tickets are $10 for students and $12 for adults. The price includes popcorn and beverage and your choice of any of the movies currently playing at the theater. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. Proceeds will help cover costs of housing and transportation for the teams. Tickets are available at Esko High School or at the theater that morning.

People can also donate online at https://www.gofundme.com/ESKO-Globals.

The Cloquet DI team is selling vouchers for hanging flower baskets from Carlton Greenhouse. Ask a member of the DI-Termined team for a voucher or call Deb Peterson at Cloquet Middle School (218-879-3328) for more information or to order a plant by May 10.

The Queen of Peace DI team will hold three fundraisers or people can send donations to the school:

  • A Knights of Columbus sponsored Pancake Breakfast from 10 a.m. until noon Sunday, May 15, at Queen of Peace Catholic Church.

  • Papa Murphy's Pizza Night from 4-7 p.m. Wednesday, May 11. There will be coupons to download and print on the school’s Facebook page and website. Donations earned are $3 on every family-sized pizza, $2 on every large pizza and 20 percent of side orders for the coupons collected.

  • The Queen of Peace team will sell brats at B&B market Thursday, May 5.
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