Five local students traveled to Beijing, China, this week to compete in the first ever Destination Imagination Asia-Pacific International Tournament.
Doug and Marian Boorman coach the team, which meets regularly at the Presbyterian Church of the Master in Coon Rapids.
Members of the team include Brittney Allen and Katie Sigler of Blaine High School, Mackenzie Allen of Northdale Middle School, Josh Dischinger of St. Stephen’s Catholic School, Matt Moen of Perpich Center for Arts Education and Mikayla Ryan of Roosevelt Middle School. Josh is unable to attend the competition in Beijing.
The tournament was invitation only, and the team, The Merry Band of Misfits, was selected to represent the United States and Minnesota by Destination Imagination.
The organization looked for teams “with significant experience and success at Globals,” according to North Metro Destination Imagination Regional Director Lynn Montgomery.
Although not all members of the team have competed at the Global level, four of the six students – Brittney, Katie, Mackenzie and Matt – were on the Boormans’ team last year, placing eighth at Globals in Knoxville, Tenn.
Out of more than 1,000 teams in Minnesota, The Merry Band of Misfits is one of two traveling to China from Minnesota. The other is based in Duluth.
The team was notified of the tournament only one month ago. The first Destination Imagination competition usually takes place in March, so readying everything by December was a challenge, one that had The Merry Band of Misfits working overtime.
Typically, the team gets together once each week for two hours, Brittney said. But, for the last month, the team has been putting in 10 hours each week. The team spent 25 hours working on its structure and skit over the Thanksgiving break.
Katie is in charge of building the structure. Last year, she made one structure each week, but this year she’s been crafting four.
“I’ve had so much glue on my hands,” Katie said.
A successful structure is lightweight, yet strong. This year, the structure must sit atop a pyramid. The structure must be incorporated into the team’s skit, which is about pirates in search of treasure.
The theme of the challenge is “Tension Builds” and with no idea whether or not appraisers will speak English, “we have to make the tension really, really obvious,” Mackenzie said.
Additionally, “everything’s got to fit in a suitcase,” Doug Boorman said. “It changed everything.”
The team rethought props to make them collapsible. Team members will bring along the Eiffel Tower, a coral reef, their pyramid and more in one suitcase.
A new National Geographic Extreme Challenge will pair the team with a Chinese team.
“It will be an all day experience,” Montgomery said, but other than time frame, teams have no idea what’s coming. The challenge will likely focus on the environment and wildlife because that’s National Geographic’s focus, Montgomery said.
Brittney is excited to work with students from another country. “It’s going to be weird being a minority,” she said, noting that although international teams do travel to Globals, since the competition is always in Tennessee, teams are mostly from the U.S.
“I’m really excited to hang out with the team some more,” Mackenzie said.
The team hopes to find time to see the Great Wall, but competition will take up most of the group’s time in China. The Merry Band of Misfits returns home Monday, Dec. 9.
The Allen sisters have traveled to China before, but it is the first time out of the country for Mikayla. She’s looking forward to experiencing “something different.” Missing school isn’t a bad perk, either, she said.
Destination Imagination is covering the bulk of the expense, Montgomery said.
Participating in Destination Imagination builds creativity, problem-solving skills, leadership, communication and more, the team said.
Olivia Koester is at [email protected]