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Published: Thursday, 5/20/2004

Imagine that! So Delta girls did

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Madeline Thomas, 12, Kayla Miller, 11, Abbey McAtee, 12, Heather Gordon, 11, Haley Brown, 12, Makenzie Smith, 11, and Jessica Jacobs, 12, have a knack for improvising creative problem solving to hypothetical situations. Madeline Thomas, 12, Kayla Miller, 11, Abbey McAtee, 12, Heather Gordon, 11, Haley Brown, 12, Makenzie Smith, 11, and Jessica Jacobs, 12, have a knack for improvising creative problem solving to hypothetical situations.
FRASER / BLADE Enlarge

DELTA - Imagine this.

You're at band camp, and you're getting ready to go swimming when something happens. You have one stuffed rabbit, two fabric pears, and three minutes. Using these props and that amount of time, you have to make up a one-minute skit, complete with a song.

Assigned this task during a practice session for the Destination ImagiNation Global Finals, seven students, who are members of the Improv Angels team, fly into action.

Chattering a mile-a-minute, they toss out ideas. Perhaps the fabric pear, turned upside down, could be used as a club. No, it looks more like a chicken leg. Go with that. The rabbit. What about the rabbit. Water. What do you do with water. Swim in it. Drink it. Something has to happen. Action. Think action. The rabbit could drink the water. It could get bigger. And bigger. Scary big. Let's crawl-under-a-bush-and-hide big.

Next, lyrics. They need a song to match their Big Bunny at Band Camp theme. They borrow the tune from the ever-popular Chicken Dance

and match their made-up lyrics to that. From a nearby room, their team manager Beth Thomas tells them time's up.

The girls take their places on a make-believe stage. With practiced precision and polished showmanship, the team nails it during the 60-second skit.

There will be many more such on-the-spot drills for the Improv Angels - Jessica Jacobs, Abbey McAtee, Heather Gordon, Makenzie Smith, Haley Brown, Madeline Thomas, and Kayla Miller - as the team from the Pike-Delta-York Local School District prepares for the upcoming international competition. The team is a mix of fifth and sixth-grade students.

Improv Angels advanced to the global event after winning high honors during the recent state finals for Destination ImagiNation, one of the world's largest creativity and problem-solving programs for youth.

Each year thousands of participants from 47 states, 15 countries, and some Canadian provinces, participate in the program operated by Destination Imagination Inc., a nonprofit in Glassboro, N.J.

According to representatives with Destination Imagination, the program helps youths build important, lifelong skills, such as problem solving, teamwork and divergent thinking. During the program's season, which for the Improv Angels began last October, teams of up to seven members choose one central challenge and spend several months perfecting their "solution" for tournament day. Teams also hone problem-solving skills for instant challenges.

Improv Angels selected a central challenge with a musical theme. As part of their homework for the competitions, the girls studied music, ranging from rock and roll to opera.

"We had to learn the similarities and differences of the musical styles," said 12-year-old Abbey.

Their challenge includes improvisational acting, music composition, design and construction of a musical instrument, theater arts, and teamwork. At the regional and state competitions they had 30 minutes to create a six-minute skit.

Haley said that they had to make the musical instrument - they came up with a combination drum and guitar - using such items as cups, rubber bands, beans, paper clips, and a metal trash can.

"It's fantastic to watch them work as a team," said Mrs. Thomas who works closely with Jane Foor, the Destination ImagiNation coordinator at the Delta Middle School.

PDY has a long history of involvement in the creativity program, but this is the first year that a Delta team has advanced to the global competition, Mrs. Thomas said. The four-day event at the University of Tennessee will draw 750 teams from across the country and around the world, she said.

It will cost about $5,000 for transportation, lodging, and food expenses for the team which is involved in fund-raising efforts. So far, about $4,000 has been raised. The PDY school board last week voted to give $1,000 to support the team.

The students will leave Delta Wednesday and return May 30, They will take along four different team T-shirts, including one that encourages the girls to out perform, out think, and out create the other competitors.

Contact Janet Romaker at

jromaker@theblade.com or

419-724-6006.



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