Some local students have been excelling at what could be called “mind games,” but these aren’t what you think.
Several have been taking part in Destination Imagination events of late and producing some top-level finishes, both provincially and nationally.
Destination Imagination is a series of contests for students who want to combine very different disciplines to compete at challenges. Typically, these challenges involved some kind of problem, with an artistic component as well. Students might work on things like theatrical sketches. However, the competitions are different from things like drama or improv events.
“There’s an element of research, and from the research they have to solve the problem,” says Vanier performing arts teacher and improv coach Lori Mazey.
This spring, some G.P. Vanier Secondary students finished on top for B.C. and in the top three for the first online national Destination Imagination competition. They’re part of a strong community of local students involved with the events like Destination Imagination, as well as theatre and improv competitions — which are a little different.
“In Destination Imagination, I’m not really allowed to help them,” Mazey says. “In D.I., it’s all student-driven.”
She says that along with the success of students at her school, students from other schools have done well at in these various competitions, with Highland and Isfeld both making junior finals for the virtual Canadian Improv Games (CIG) this year, while Isfeld also had a team in the senior finals. Vanier’s Let Us Explain, the Canadian Improv Games team, won the national Canadian Improv Games tournament this spring, while All Directions from Vanier came in sixth.
For Destination Imagination, the teams were competing in two challenge categories. For the fine arts challenge, teams created a music video based on a work of literature.
From the secondary fine arts class, the Poison Apples team of Kodi Hutchison, Darilyn Juhas, Laura Kokoryk, Rosie Wood and Cassidy VanVelzen came second in Canada. The Final Brain Cell team of Sarah Whiteford, Nicholas Anderton, Alfie Thompson, Lilou Frappier, Anouk Junkers and Cora Ulsamer finished third. Both teams finished as the top two in B.C.
The improvisational challenge involved research and storytelling, as the teams had to make a video about a detective and sidekick working to solve a mystery. Finishing first nationally was Team Chance, made up of Miranda Mail, Ethan Petty, Nicholas Tarrant and Aili Forrest. The team was the same one that had previously won the provincial tournament and the global tournament in the past.
Usually, Destination Imagination finals are live events, but over the past year, since the pandemic, things have had to move online.
Some of the participants are new, while others like Miranda Mail and Ethan Petty have been taking part for about several years and were on the Grade 9 team that was the global champ. The two Grade 12 students say their work starts early in the year.
“You do a lot more research at the beginning of the year,” says Mail.
They share their work on Google Docs and start working on challenges once D.I. season starts.
“This entire process has been us learning how to deal with curveballs,” she says.
At the same time, the two also take part in improv events, which use different skills — though not entirely.
“That really helps when you’re doing D.I.,” says Petty.
Both add that Destination Imagination does have more of an academic focus and requires more research.
The two got involved a few grades back at the urging of teachers or others in drama classes.
“They all cornered me and said, ‘You should do it, you’d be really good,’” says Petty.
They’re not sure of their next steps, but both would like to stay involved with Destination Imagination after secondary school, perhaps at the university level or even coming back as a volunteer or coach to help other kids in the Comox Valley.
At the May 25 school board meeting, superintendent Tom Demeo highlighted a few improv teams from Isfeld Secondary for their recent success at nationals. Junior team one finished first and junior team two was third, while senior team one finished second.
“Our district has a great reputation and a long history of improv teams,” he said. “Congratulations to the team members and their coaches.”