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Student teams ‘imagine’ and win
Seven Mercer Island School District teams, four teams from the elementary school level and three from Islander Middle School, competed in the regional Destination ImagiNation tournament on March 5.
Destination ImagiNation is an international competition where teams of students engage in solving open-ended challenges that require teamwork, creativity and imagination. The tournament involved teams from public and private schools from all over the Seattle metropolitan area.
Two of the elementary teams and one from Islander Middle School won their competitions and are moving on to the state tournament in Wenatchee on April 2. A win at state would make them eligible to go to the global finals in Tennessee in May.
The elementary improv team members who are advancing to state are Nolan Wittman, Andie Pillsbury, Ben Dunbar, Zane Jolley-Ruud and Akriti Purohit.
The elementary structure team members advancing are Albert Lam, Leif Gullstad, Owen Bernstein, Neal Ma, Riley Milburn, Zack Gottesman and William Lacrampe.
Middle school structure team members going to state include Ben Stoops, Cole Nielsen, Verli Chen, Chris Dierkes, Bryan Zhao, Josh Park and Aidan Wang.
The elementary technical team consisting of Joe Park, Elizabeth Park, William Goodwin, Donald Hildebrandt, Vinny Ricci, Andrew Motz and Zoe Sheill earned third place and received a highly coveted Renaissance Award for outstanding creativity and design of their device.
MISD’s “Spinning a Tale” elementary team earned first and third place in instant challenge. Team members were Mari Nielsen, Antonio Gil, Ethan Torork, Garret Leung and Lexi Shurygailo.
At the middle school level, the theatrical middle school team earned first and third place in Instant Challenge. Those team members consisted of Jasper Hugunin, Ellie Bernstein, Grace Hunter, Adam Tucker, Andrew Ardeleanu, Nate Sigmon and Nicolas Lacrampe.
The middle school improv team finished in third place with team members Carlin Chuck, Jay Rosenstein, Scott Montague, Trevor Gullstad, Dylan Ma, Louis Lam and Jason McRuer.
Mark Headlee, a teacher at West Mercer, runs the program and provides encouragement and support for the students, all in his free time.
Parent coordinator Scott Milburn said students are given a variety of real-world instant challenges that they must solve as a team. For example, he said one challenge was to build the strongest structure possible using only glue, balsa wood and aluminum foil. Milburn said rather than focusing on a specific skill, Destination ImagiNation has the students working on skills across the board.
Last year MISD sent three teams to the state tournament and one to the global finals. This year’s global finals will be held May 25-28 in Knoxville, Tenn.