Water Oak Elementary's first place team, which is advancing to the state contest, included Matthew Calhoun, Carli Parker, Caroline Berning, Jaye Doughtie and Mandy Eckhardt.
Staff Photo By Angela Pitts

Two local teams headed for Destination Imagination state contest

SSMS, Water Oak teams advance to next level

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

March 27, 2008 - Students from Sulphur Springs Middle School and Water Oak School are headed for the state Destination Imagination contest in April after scoring wins at the regional level earlier this month.

Local residents can catch a preview of one of the winning entries tonight when the Sulphur Springs Middle School DI teams perform in the SSMS gymnasium. The "SSMS Destination Imagination Team Show Case" begins at 6:30 p.m. The public is invited to see the five middle school teams repeat their performances from the recent competitions.

Sulphur Springs Middle School's "Switch" team earned top honors at the regional level to advance to the state Destination Imagination contest next weekend in Round Rock. Pictured left to right are Kyle Smith, Jacob Rost, Mike Smith (manager), Ashleigh Wallace, Hannah McCampbell, Michelle Blackmon (manager), Rebecca Sehnert, Joshua Harmon and Macie McIllwain.
Staff Photo By Angela Pitts

One of the middle school DI teams scored high enough recently to compete next week in the state DI contest, while a Water Oak School team is also headed for the Round Rock competition, scheduled for Arpil 4-5.

If either of the local teams take first at state, they qualify for the DI Global Finals, held every year in Knoxville, Tenn. SSMS has sent multiple teams to the Global Finals in past years.

The "SWITCH!" structure team from Sulphur Springs Middle School advanced to Round Rock after taking first place at the Mesquite meet March 1. Team members include SSMS students Joshua Harmon, Macie McIllwain, Jacob Rost, Hannah McCampbell, Ashleigh Wallace, Rebecca Sehnert and Kyle Smith.

Water Oak Elementary's "DI've Got a Secret" team also took top honors at the regional meet with "The Secret of Youth," a play about dementia and the secret of youth that included a required optical illusion, a masqueraded character and a secret. This team, which consisted of students from grades three through five, included only five members -- two shy of the allowable seven. The Water Oak Elementary team, coached by Laura Doughtie and Clary Parker, included Matthew Calhoun, Carli Parker, Caroline Berning, Jaye Doughtie, Mandy Eckhardt.

Other teams that competed in the creative problem-solving tournament scored high but missed out on a trip to state.

The SSMS "Hit or Myth" hybrid team finished second at the regional contest. Team members included Reilly Hale, Jesse Morrill, Jarred Cowley, Sarah Forsman, Holli Wilson, Samantha Weeks and Mallory White.

Two teams from SSMS and a home-schooled team from Sulphur Springs were placed third in middle school-level contests at the regional competition.

The third placed "Choriffic" improv team from SSMS consisted of Sami Stoltenberg, Abby Tipps, Heston Humprey, Kiante Clayton and Karl Sehnert. Cole Mason, Dalton Rutherford, Ty Rich, Cody Dennis, Bryce Medelline and Justin Mathews made up the third-ranked SSMS "Obstacles, of Course!" technical team.

The Sulphur Springs home-school team consisted of the same core group of students that also competed in DI last year.

This group -- Laura Graham, Jacey Mitchell, Marcy Fisher, Brady Fisher, Olivia Pruitt, Mason Pruitt and Sam Gray -- is notable. While all three boys would be at the age cut-off for the elementary contest, the girls were all just turning 11. That meant they had to decide whether or not to work together as one group against a higher level of competition.

" At the beginning of the year, we had to decide if we wanted to create two teams or if we wanted to move up a level. Being up for a challenge, our kids decided they would like to compete at the higher middle school level," said Kris Mitchell, who along with her husband Terry, Brit and Susan Fisher, Bart and Anna Pruitt, Darren and Cathy Gray, Brad and Cindy Graham coach the home-school team.

In addition to earning third place at the middle school level, the home-schooled "DI've got a Secret" team also won a Renaissance Award "because their three revealer set pieces spelled out the answer to the secret when put together at the end of the skit," according to Mitchell.

"I'm really proud of all of them. Their teamwork was fantastic, in spite of having two brother/sister combinations, and their enthusiasm for the project was wonderful to be around every week," she said.

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