A team of students at Mark R. Isfeld Secondary School is still a bit shocked after finishing 10th at the Destination ImagiNation Global Finals in Tennessee.
School District 71 sent three teams to the Global Finals in Knoxville, Tenn. — the Spiffy Flamingos, who won the provincial championship earlier this spring; the Gods of Epicness from École Robb Road Elementary School, who were also provincial champions; and a second Isfeld team, ICE, which earned enough points at the provincials to qualify.
The Spiffy Flamingos — Ethan Glenwright, Josh Duncan, Kyle Vaags, Melissa L’Heureux-Haché and Samm Merrick — finished 10th in the Secondary Improvisation Challenge at the Globals, which were held May 23 to 28 in Knoxville, Tenn. Two team members who helped the team win the Provincials (Forrest Picher and Katarina Smith) were unable to make the trip to Globals.
The team’s challenge required students to create a five-minute improvisational skit about a mission involving a mythical creature. They drew one of six cultures and had to prepare their presentation on the spot. They needed to incorporate research about the culture, as well as three items selected randomly.
By placing 10th at Globals, the Spiffy Flamingos are the top Destination ImagiNation team in Canada.
“It feels huge,” said Glenwright.
Destination ImagiNation is the world’s largest creative problem solving program for students in kindergarten to Grade 12.
There were 1,155 teams from 17 countries at the Global Finals.
“For something that nobody knows about in Canada, it’s one of the biggest things I’ve ever been to,” said Duncan.
Teacher Heather Corman is still having a hard time explaining the experience.
“Talking to other teachers, I’m an English teacher and I pride myself on words, but I just couldn’t describe it,” she said. “It was so awesome in the true sense of the word. I was amazed at the creativity that went into it and also the team building. This team has always been amazing and always worked well and cohesively, but even they got closer.”
“It kind of felt like a dream when we woke up after all the plane rides,” noted Merrick.
Merrick got to carry the Canadian flag in the opening ceremonies, while Glenwright held the B.C. flag, and L’Heureux-Haché carried a sign saying British Columbia.
During the awards ceremony, the teams that finished fourth through 10th were named on a huge screen in the stadium at the University of Tennessee.
“I couldn’t actually believe it when I saw our name on the big screen,” said Glenwright.
“I still don’t think I fully comprehend — 10th doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but we beat all the teams in China that the Chinese team beat,” noted Vaags.
This is School District 71’s second year participating in Destination ImagiNation and the first time it has sent teams to the Global Finals.
“The wonderful thing about getting to go there is I think we all now have a clear idea of where we need to go to get there,” said Corman. “There’s a lot of excitement in our staff and students. It’s such a good model of education to have kids working collaboratively and exploring the creative and technical sides.”
The Spiffy Flamingos thank the school district and school board for their support in sending the three local teams to Globals.
“They put up a lot of money for us,” said Merrick. “I’m pretty sure we couldn’t go without it.”
Full of enthusiasm about Destination ImagiNation, the students hope their success will encourage others to start teams.
“If you have a chance to start a team, do it,” said Merrick. “Even if it sounds lame at the beginning, do it. It’s way better than it sounds.”
“Hopefully what’s going on here is hopefully going to build some awareness for it because it’s such an amazing thing,” said Vaags, who says he would like to try to start a team if and when he goes to university.