Imagination - teamwork style; Students compete in state finals.
WORCESTER - Creativity, teamwork and showmanship took center stage yesterday as hundreds of students from schools across the state strutted their stuff on the Worcester Polytechnic Institute campus.
The state finals for Destination ImagiNation were held on the WPI campus, where participants brought energy and enthusiasm enough to compensate for the gloomy weather.
The nonprofit, volunteer organization issues challenges to participating schools and communities in late summer and teams of up to seven students spend months crafting creative solutions. Though overseen by team "managers," participants are not given any help.
This year's challenges included "Operation Cooperation," in which participants had to build two machines that worked together to accomplish an objective. For "ViDIo Lit Hits," works of literature were reborn as live music videos performed by the competitors.
For "Instinct Messaging," meanwhile, participants had to illustrate animal communication via sound, color, movement and other tools.
Seven pupils from the Hubbardston Center School, ages 10 and 11, won the regional competition for their "Instinct Messaging" skills, and performed "Bee Amazed" at the WPI campus center late yesterday morning. In their performance, team members Teagan Cybulski, Jennifer Gosselin, Connor Burkle, Helaine White, Rose Kelley, Bella Marinelli and Jared Gregson-Pareago donned bee costumes and showed how the insects use their antennae and movement to speak with one another.
Connor, who played a male bee, was happy to re-create some of his moves after the performance as participants and parents prepared for lunch.
Sherry Burkle, Connor's mother, said Destination ImagiNation has been a wonderful experience for the children and their proud parents.
"It encourages them to work together, and they've all learned a lot about themselves doing it," she said.
Michele White, Helaine's mother, also said she appreciates the team effort involved.
"In a world of `I,' `me,' and `my,' if it's not all of them together, the ship goes down," she said.
Team manager Samantha Coons, 17, a junior at Quabbin Regional High School, was proud of the effort put forth by the kids.
In another building on campus, a group of Nashoba Regional High School seniors offered their own take on animal communication. Alex and Nick Papanastassiou, Meghan Ryan, Rebecca Krantz, Molly Porcher and Jeff Bagdigian, all of Stow, and Nick Lawrence of Bolton, donned costumes for a skit that depicted insects under attack from a feathered, French-speaking bird.
Team members have been involved with Destination ImagiNation for years, their managers, Tom Ryan and Quince Papanastassiou, said yesterday. They have made it all the way to the "globals" in years past, Mr. Ryan said.
Irene Matteucci of Melrose was an affiliate challenge master yesterday, monitoring the action on the stage. Her daughter, now an adult, participated years ago.
"You just say to a group of kids, `You've got to figure it out,' and they will come up with things you never imagined," she said. "It teaches them how to think a nonlinear way."
Other local communities that sent teams yesterday included Douglas, Grafton, Marlboro, Millbury, Sutton and Townsend.
Thirty teams from yesterday's competition will face off in the "global" final contest on May 20 in Knoxville, Tenn.
CUTLINE: At the Destination ImagiNation state final yesterday, the team from Douglas Intermediate Elementary School included, from left, Daveed Goldenberg, Jacob Nadreau and Grant Gualtieri.
PHOTOG: T&G Staff/MARK C. IDE