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Students learn teamwork, creative thinking

South county students who recently won an international creativity and problem-solving competition have learned teamwork, getting along and thinking outside of the box, the winners said after they returned home this week.

Bear River High School students recently won the global finals of the Destination ImagiNation competition at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

The six-member team competed against 59 teams from around the world and won first place and the Renaissance award for exceptional creativity.



The participants were Katie deLaveaga, Alex Hendriksen, Vincent Sherman, Jacque Nat, Dan Nicholls and Jocelyn Bayne.

Destination ImagiNation is a worldwide program based in Glassboro, N.J., that requires students to solve a given problem as a team in creative ways. Participating teams follow given guidelines while formulating the solution.




“The whole point of the competition is to think out of the box,” said Michele Uppman, a teacher at Magnolia School, who mentored the Bear River team. “The students have to do everything on their own. I am just there to answer questions they may have, or find experts to help them in a given area.”

Bear River High School has been participating in the Destination ImagiNation program for the past 21 years, Uppman said. The team has won the first place in the global finals thrice before in 2003, 2004 and 2006.

This year, the team had to perform an eight-minute skit involving a protagonist who encounters personal challenges in life and overcomes them, Uppman said. They also had to include a technical element in the performance without using electricity, she added.

The team created a hollow totem pole that could be made to rotate with the help of a hand crank. Some characters in the play remained within the totem pole and stepped out on the stage at appropriate junctures in the performance.

“Participating in the Destination ImagiNation program has helped me work as a team and get along with people who may be hard to get along with,” said 17-year-old Jacque Nat. “I’ve learned to solve life problems.

“You also meet very interesting people when you go to the competition,” Nat said.

Dan Nicholls, 18, agreed.

“I think the thing I got out of Destination ImagiNation is teamwork skills and looking at a problem from different angles,” he said.

The Bear River team practiced their act after school and on weekends from November to mid-April, Nicholls said. The after school rehearsals would usually last three hours, while those during weekends could go up to six hours.

But victory hasn’t made the students complacent.

“Every time, we want to make our performance better,” said 16-year-old Jocelyn Bayne. “It is like a challenge within ourselves.

“I really find it amazing to do something where I can compete with people from other countries because we live somewhere where we are very sheltered,” Bayne said.

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To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail soumitros@theunion.com or call 477-4229.


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