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Local teams run away with Destination Imagination prizes

by: Submitted photo, Members of Jacob Wismer Elementary School's winning

Teams representing Jacob Wismer Elementary School, Sunset High School and Village Home Education Resource Center took home first-place trophies in their respective categories at this year's Oregon Destination Imagination state tournament held April 5 at Oregon State University.

All of the winning teams are invited to the Global Finals set for May 21 through 24 at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville where they will compete with 8,000 other participants. Destination Imagination is an international creative problem-solving program. For 27 years, Oregon students in kindergarten through college have learned the importance of teamwork, research, time and resource management, critical thinking, experimentation, presentation skills and creativity with the program.

At Wismer, it was the AFOOFA team, which stands for 'All for One, One for All,' that garnered the top score.

During AFOOFA's team challenge, the students presented their 'DI've got a Secret,' an eight-minute skit that they created from inception to production. The team worked hard for the past six months to create a skit based on the real-world issue of homeless children, said Venkatesh Chaya, one of the team coaches.

After the eight-minute presentation, the judges, called appraisers, interviewed the team members to understand how they got ideas and how they worked as a team. They also discussed the students' creative problem-solving skills and made sure that there was no help from any non-team member.

The Wismer team plans to attend the Global Tournament in Knoxville.

'Our priority is to meet some real-life homeless children to understand their experiences,' said Chaya.

For the fourth year in a row, seniors from Sunset High School took home a first-place trophy at the event. The team, named KERNEL, was an acronym based on the first letter of the students' names before 'N' moved away.

In addition to the top prize, Rick Vranish was cited for outstanding design, execution, and performance during the team's presentation. Using a random assortment of clothes hangers, buckets, and PVC pipe, he created instruments and performed on them, receiving a renaissance award from the judges.

This year, the team tackled 'Chorific,' an improv challenge. They practiced by researching a dozen famous people - including Erasmus Darwin, Gold Meir, Ghengis Khan, Sally Ride, and Simon Bolivar - and brought their notes and a collection of materials including cardboard boxes, fabric, foil, tape, and pipe cleaners to the tournament.

They were given 30 minutes to put together a skit, props, costumes, and sound themes. One minute before they performed, they were told which famous person they had to include in their skit. They also had to include improve techniques, a randomly selected chore, plus two obstacles related to the chore, in their six-minute skit.

'They've been together since fourth grade at West TV Elementary,' said Jane Erwin, team manager. 'They are really bright and creative, and they work together well, playing off and building upon each other's ideas. It's been a privilege to watch them over the years.'

Also placing first were the Village Home Education Resource Center Destination Imagination team called the 'Supernovas' for their 'Obstacles of Course! Challenge.'

The four, seventh-grade members have been working on their challenge since October. The challenge included building a remote controlled vehicle utilizing battery-operated screwdrivers and designing a challenging obstacle course. They also came up with a space-themed, non-verbal skit about overcoming obstacles.

The Supernovas, coached by Carol Linderman and Sherri Streicher, was also honored with a renaissance award at the regional tournament and plans to attend the Global Tournament in Knoxville.

Meanwhile,Vose Elementary School placed fourth in the state tournament.

Karen Harger, a fifth-grade teacher at the school, coached team members Armando Birrueta-Padilla, Anthony Delgado-Padilla, Imogene Hernberger, Yocelin Maldonado-Diaz, Cecelia Fondren, Kayla Sellers and Hugo Ramirez-Pineda to the event. They competed in the Hit or Myth Challenge, where they had to take a folk tale and using science, had to prove the magical elements of the story.