Bay Middle School’s Aqua Girls rank second in Destination Imagination finals

Team Aqua Girls, with their second-place medals, from left: (front) Caroline Fowles, Eliza Aleksandrovic, Audrey Ray, Olivia Reed; (back) team manager Kim Ray, Grace Chilton, Ava Ransom, Patty Yuhas and team manager Michele Moore.

Competing with dozens of teams from Singapore, Turkey, Korea, Qatar and other countries, as well as from many states across the U.S., the Aqua Girls of Bay Middle School earned a second-place rank in their category at the Destination Imagination Global Finals in Knoxville, Tennessee, in May. Two more teams from Bay Village Schools also competed at the event following a Destination Imagination season that drew 20 teams from the Bay Village City Schools competing at the regional level.

This was the Aqua Girls’ fourth visit to the Global Finals competition that focuses on creativity, problem solving and teamwork. Members Eliza Aleksandrovic, Grace Chilton, Caroline Fowles, Ava Ransom, Audrey Ray, Olivia Reed and Patty Yuhas beat their own goal of finishing in the top ten by getting to second place.

Other Bay Village teams at the finals included Bay High students Jessica Bohannon, Jessica Perri and Olivia Risch; and Westerly Elementary students James Chilton, Annie Davenport, James Fowles, Patrick Lehane, Finn Meadows, Maeve Ransom and Iain Ray.

Attendance at this international event, earned by competing at regional and then state levels, is a rare opportunity to interact with students from across the U.S. and from all over the world. Language did not seem to be much of a barrier to students as they traded team-designed and state-designed pins, a popular activity that encouraged students to talk with one another. “Our team chose a pin using Abraham Lincoln’s image,” said Caroline Fowles. “We chose it because it was the 150th anniversary of his assassination.”

The teams all competed in English, and students found that no matter where people came from, English was the universal language at the Global Finals. Fluency varied, though, and at least one team was spotted using a translator phone app as they rehearsed. “I traded pins one time using another kid as a translator,” said Patty Yuhas.

After years of experience, the girls, who start working together each August, no longer waste time working on a challenge before their strategy is complete. “We learn a lot by studying other teams at the Global Finals and the State Finals,” said Ava Ransom. The team will often compete at the regional level, tweak their presentation for the state level, and then tweak it again before the global level.

“But we are learning to save time by making better decisions at the start,” said Audrey Ray. “Six new challenges are offered each year, and we choose knowing we have limited time. We know now, for example, that challenges including a service requirement take a lot of time!”

“We’ve worked hard as a team and gotten to know each other,” added Eliza Aleksandrovic. “This has made us really close. You need to trust that your team members will do their part.”

Students stayed at the University of Tennessee in dormitory rooms, and food was served in the cafeteria as well as a large, dining tent. Students visited booths hosted by representatives from NASA, 3M, Disney and other corporate sponsors of the event. A highlight was hearing former astronaut (and second man to step foot on the moon) Buzz Aldrin speak at the opening ceremonies.

Aqua Girls participated in the competition’s Feary Tales challenge, requiring a true blend of artistic creativity and problem-solving skills. This group had to create a fairy tale about a character that faces and deals with a phobia, and they wrote one of their own about a chameleon that felt like he blended in so couldn’t make a difference. The fairy tale was presented through a puppet show. The team had to create a functional artwork that served a practical function, and they created a rainbow drawbridge. Another requirement was to create an illusion, and the girls had their story author blend into a tree by wearing a costume, then step out as the tree trunk is raised to reveal the author. Lights, colors, magnets and other technical elements created a magical presentation staying within the strict criteria and guidelines of the challenge.

The girls are finding that as they get older, other activities like sports and service projects are competing for the significant amount of time they must spend to have a winning Destination Imagination team. “We have something others don’t have,” said Grace Chilton, referring to the years the girls have teamed up together. “The teamwork and the ability to work together really stands out. It’s our friendship, though, that is the most important thing to me. There is no other way I would like to spend my Friday nights!”

The team managers are Michele Moore and Kim Ray, and the student advisor is Marian Harmount.

Karen Derby

Director of Communications for the Bay Village City School District

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Volume 7, Issue 11, Posted 9:26 AM, 06.02.2015