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Home News-Telegram News Technical Challenge team advances to DI Globals — for 2nd straight year

Technical Challenge team advances to DI Globals — for 2nd straight year

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Sulphur Springs Middle School had one team advance from the state to Global Destination Imagination Finals, another placed sixth at state and three other teams finished in the top half at the competition.


“There were 475 teams total at the state DI competition which includes elementary, middle and high school teams. In state of Texas, there are 2,850 teams who have competed this year in DI,” said Johnny Wells, a DI team manager and SSMS DI coordinator. “Our teams did an outstanding job.”

The “technical challenge” team is particularly notable as this will be the second year in a row this particular group of students and team managers  will be involved in the global DI finals. They include Nathan Frye, Jesse Allen, Kade Brown, Spencer Brewer,  Gage Penson, Leif Thomas and Joshua Whitten-Edwards and team managers Chip Vaughn and Johnny Wells. This year, Clay Hansford also joins the group as a team manager, but it’s not his first experience with DI. Hansford is an “alumnus of the DI experience,” having competed in the event when he attended SSMS, noted Wells.

The team placed third March 2 at East Texas Region Destination Imagination contest. Ordinarily, only the top two teams advance to state. However, prior to state, Texas’ top DI officials look at all the results from across the state and select only a few teams who missed advancing by a narrow margin, select their top picks from among those and push them through to the state contest. State officials advanced the SSMS “technical” team forward to the state meet.The technical challenge required teams to decide if they will “push it, play it safe or take a big risk” with their cranked vehicles, while telling a story that is “In the Zone.” Each team also had to present a story about the dangers faced by vehicles, told from the point of view of one or more vehicles; design and build small vehicles that are able to reliably and accurately travel specific distances; and use at least three different power sources for the vehicles.

The SSMS technical team came in second at the April 12-13 state competition held at Cinco Ranch High School in Katy, which qualifies them to compete at the global finals. They are hoping to match or improve last year’s third place ranking at the global contest. This year’s global finals are being held May 22-25 at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

The SSMS “In Disguise” team placed sixth and the other three teams placed in the top half of the competition at the April 12-13 state DI competition.

The In Disguise team advanced to the state contest as the top-rated performance team at the East Texas Region Destination Imagination contest. Anden Hammack, Hannah Smith, Alice Lopez, Abby Diaz-Deleon, Owen Lee, Eli Sellers and Caitlyn Williams, along with SSMS art teacher Amber Nix as team manager, were presented the In DIsguise challenge: “With the right camouflage, you can become anyone or anything. Superheroes and chameleons change themselves every day! Who will you be when you take the mask away?” They had to present a team-created story about a character that uses a disguise; use only non-verbbal theatrical techniques to present the story; and design and construct at least two masks that enhance the story. The team also received an award at the region DI contest for outstanding creativity for “morphing mask.”

“I was really pleased that we took an improv team to state this year. It has been years since SSMS was at the state level with the improv challenge,” noted Wells.

The improv team which advanced to the state contest by  placing  second place at the East Texas Region DI contest included Emily Johnson, Jamia Hall, Mandy Eckhardt, Dylan Joiner, DJ Hall, Johnathan Johnson and Brayden Fisher and coach Christine Thomas. “Change in RealiTee!” challenge’s teams to pretend the world has undergone a dramatic change overnight, and to make sense of the change using T-shirts and markers. They are tasked with creating a 5 minute improve skit about life after the dramatic change and how the characters adapt to the change; learn about different communication techniques and integrate one into the skit; use only white T-shirts and washable markers to create all costumes, sets and propers; and create a slogan from three randomly selected nouns.

The SSMS structure team consisting of Charlie Maddux, Colten Armstrong, Hagen Hunt, Kasey Moore, Andrea Mora, Abbey Martin and Gillian Thomas and coach Michael Moore also earned the right to compete at the state contest by earning first place at the East Texas Region DI meet March 2. They were required to answer the Twist-O-Rama challenge to “do a special kind of twist: build a structure that can survive a serious hit while holding weight.” The team was required to build a structure made entirely of glue and materials the team choose from a list; test the structure by placing weights on it, and subject it to torque-inducing impacts; produce a list of materials used in the structure and provide samples of the materials; produce a prop or costume made of all the materials used in the structure; and tell a story about something or someone that causes an unexpected twist or surprising change. They also received an award for outstanding creativity for “unique backdrop.”

The SSMS hybrid team consisting of Chase Charlton, Hannah Dixon, Allie Avery, Natalie Cruz, Celeste Leeds-Laliberte, Makenna Kager, Natalee Foster and team managers Audra Latimer and Jody Leeds advanced to the state meet by earning second at the region contest.




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