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Destination ImagiNation: A new record
by June Oliver

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20 May 2007

Press Release highlights:

Maharishi School's Destination ImagiNation (DI) program has set a new record for state championships. This year, eight teams came in first at State out of a total 15 division winners, beating Maharishi School's 2005 state record of seven firsts. All eight teams, 43 students in all, are now getting ready to take the show on the road, which will end in Knoxville, Tennessee at the Global Finals. The international competition will draw 8,000 students from all over North America as well as Europe, Asia and South America. From May 23-26, this year's best teams will showcase their creative problem-solving talents and hopefully bring back medals.

Senior Suzannah Schindler has been to the Global Finals five times already, but 'every year it's still awesome,' she says. One reason is that every year the teams get a new crop of long-term challenges to solve. The Acting Challenge is the favorite problem in the Girls School this year, with three teams competing at the elementary, middle school and senior high levels.

Each challenge has a list of specifications that the judges use to score. The Acting Challenge specs call for an 8-minute play about a hero who overcomes a challenge, performed as theater-in-the-round with a technical prop that operates without electricity. The Middle School championship team (Anna Brett, Coco Clark, Tama Eagleson, Auriel Jones, and Penelope Makeig) concocted a tale brought to life by a Rube Goldberg machine with a lever that activates a dinging bell, and shoots up confetti in the air.

The challenge most popular with the Middle and Upper School boys this year was the Structure Challenge, dubbed 'CardDIology'. The theme was cards. According to Jay Stewart, the Upper School boys focused on punch cards and union cards in their skit about a coal miner. During the performance, they constructed a 51-gram structure out of 33 playing cards. It was able to support 460 pounds in weight. Team mate Eric Caplan said, 'The judges were impressed with the ratio of the weight of the structure to its load-bearing capacity.' They awarded the team a DaVinci award for creative risk taking. According to Eric, the technical demands of building a structure usually eclipse the dramatic part of the problem. 'We paid attention to both elements,' he said.

Not to be outdone, the Middle School team created a structure that supported 605 pounds. It weighed about 74 grams according to eighth grader Dominic Borg. While teammate Toby Walker built the structure, the boys performed their skit about a card game where a man learns that dishonesty is not the best policy. Fun it is, but with a solid mix of architectural design and structural engineering along with the pure creativity.

Those who enjoy the creative freedom but don't have as much time to commit to the program can choose the Improv Challenge. The 11th grade boys, who have SATs, sports and other commitments, opted for this problem. Some advance preparation is required. This year they had to research six different nations and traditions.

At the competition, they will have to improvise a skit with three scenes. For each scene they will draw from a hat a 'Nation' card and a 'Sensory Experience' card telling them what to include in the scene. The skits also have to incorporate a randomly selected picture, a randomly selected situation, and a 'traDItionator,' a prop they will have to construct on the spot from materials they bring to the tournament. They have 30 minutes to come up with a coherent, six-minute story. According to Nathaniel Alexander, 'You have to learn how to think on your feet and be ready for anything.'

DI Coach Mark Wilkins says, 'I'm proud of the level of excellence in this program. All of the teams have at least two people who have been state champions before. They know what it takes to get to Global Finals.'

Global Good News comment:

For information about Maharishi's seven-point programme to create a healthy, happy, prosperous society, and a peaceful world, please visit: Global Financial Capital of New York.

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