High schoolers compete in global creativity contest, train younger team

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO: ROB JETT - The Westridge Elementary School team, the Pink Piggies, is in white. From left, the Pink Piggies are: Shelby Lofton, Reese Cagann, Avery Jett, Clarissa Snaadt, Sofia Corso and Abby Mendoza. Lakeridge High Schools Girls in Motion, in green shirts, are, from left: Jackie Zawada, Lea Zawada, Alison Smith, Kelsey Johansen, Megan Johansen, Adele Zawada.The Lakeridge High School Destination Imagination team netted first place at the regional competition and first place at state before competing in the global competition last month.

The team, called Girls in Motion, took 12th this year out of 66 teams that entered the high school division of the problem-solving competition, said Ellie Zawada, whose three daughters, a freshman, junior and senior, are on the Lakeridge team.

Zawada said the hands-on nature of the program teaches students that: “There is more to life and more to learn in life than book knowledge.”

This year, the Lakeridge team made a Rube Goldberg machine composed of a series of tubes that colored water rushed through, painting a waxed cloth as it passed through it.

Lakeridge junior Lea Zawada, who got her sisters involved in Destination Imagination, said the machine didn’t function perfectly, but it was a complicated mechanism that Girls in Motion had to disassemble, put in suitcases and reassemble on site.

The 17-year-old said their competitors enjoyed watching the group’s creation come to life. The team enjoyed the positive environment and one another’s company, she said.

“Within your team, you create really tight bonds from learning how to work together because that’s the whole point of DI,” she said.

Her sister, Lakeridge senior Adele Zawada, was selected as the National DI Valedictorian, earning a $2,000 scholarship along with the honor.

The Lakeridge team has been together for eight years, pocketing first place in the state competition for seven of those years.

With half of the six-person team graduating this year, the students are considering competing at the university level.

The group also has helped third-graders at Westridge Elementary School put together and maintain a team, the Pink Piggies. The students took home second place at the regional competition and second at state. They were the youngest competitors at both contests.

“It will be kind of a legacy, bringing more teams into DI, and that’s giving back to the program,” Lea Zawada said.

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