Middle school team forges strength through disagreements

11 years ago

LIMESTONE, Maine — For some kids, there aren’t words to describe winning States and being able to compete at Globals.
Ask Limestone’s middle-level Destination ImagiNation team how cool it is to win States, however, and they’ll give you literally five answers in under four seconds.

“It’s really cool.”
“It’s awesome.”
“It’s awesomely cool.”
“It’s like, really sweet.”
“It’s amazingly awesome.”
Needless to say, this seven-student team is pretty excited about heading to Nashville, Tenn. later this month for a chance to compete at Nationals.
Like other champion teams, the middle-level students have made drastic improvements to almost every facet of their challenge in hopes of coming away with the gold.
But this team has something that no one else in the world has — each other.
“We have different people on our team than anyone else, and we all have different personalities so we come up with different ideas,” explained teammate Stephenie Bragg.
Her six teammates are Karoline Dillenbeck, Karson Albert, Megan Tucker, David Tucker, Tom Pinette and Taylor Devoe — a group of middle schoolers who’ve seemingly found a very yin and yang balance between outspoken and reserved individuals.
Quiet or loud, each teammate has unique opinions they’re willing to share — and defend.
That meant a different team dynamic for the team’s Global DI veterans from last year — Albert, Dillenbeck, Megan Tucker, Pinette and Devoe.
“Last year, pretty much everything that was said, we pretty much agreed on,” Albert explained.
“[With new teammates], it was more of a challenge,” Megan Tucker said, and Devoe agreed.
“It’s better to have new people,” Devoe said. “You can hear different ideas from other people and what their perspective of their idea is.”
Albert simplified it even further.
“At the end of the day, we all get along … even if we argued all day,” he said, making his teammates laugh.
This year, the DI team said that they’ve learned how disagreements can help make things better.
“We disagreed with changing our challenge, but at the end of it, everyone voted for change — and I think we’re doing better with ‘Twist-O-Rama’ that we would be with ‘In Disguise,’” Albert said.
At the start of the DI season, the middle-level team began planning for the In Disguise challenge — the same challenge Limestone’s elementary students undertook.
With only seven weeks left until state competition — the students put it to a vote and changed their challenge, starting from scratch.
Despite being at a serious time disadvantage, Limestone’s mid-level team didn’t seem too surprised at their State victory.
“It wasn’t really that surprising, but it was pretty cool that we did it in that amount of time,” David Tucker said.
It goes hand-in-hand that the middle-level DI team has learned a thing or two about time management — aside from roughly a dozen hours of DI practice a week, they’re still doing their homework, household chores, and participating in extracurricular activities like sports.
“It helps us balance our schedule and use our time wisely,” Pinette said.
Even though participating in DI means stricter adherence to a schedule — as there are only so many hours in a day — Megan Tucker explained that it’s a fun activity that they like to do.
“It sprouts your imagination into something that’s completely and utterly awesome,” Devoe said.
“… and you can be yourself,” Albert added.
In keeping with that theme of being themselves while growing their imagination, Dillenbeck said that her favorite team creation is their backdrop “because it shows all our personalities in one piece,” she explained.
Most everything in the group’s skit contains elements that reflect collaboration between each of the seven students.
In their Twist-O-Rama challenge, for example, everything centers around one weight-bearing structure that the students built, and that little piece of cooperation is the crux of the challenge.
With four little sticks of bamboo, two pieces of cardboard, and some dabs of hot glue, the load-bearing prop that’s roughly the size of a toaster carries a lot of weight — and a lot of work went into it.
Splitting up into two teams, the group researched and built two separate structures they believed would be sturdy under stacked weight and pressure. Testing both, the group reached one conclusion.
“We ended up combining the ideas,” said Albert. “One day in practice, me, Tommy and David went into the weight room and all the weights that we put on it, it held.”
“It was over 600 pounds,” he said with obvious pride in his voice.
When asked if they were surprised at how much weight their little prop could hold, it was a unified “yes” that’s symbolic of the collaborative nature of the entire challenge; the group also unanimously agreed that even if they come in last place at Globals, they’re still happy with their team
“Because at least we made it to Tennessee,” said Megan Tucker.
“It’s all about the experience,” Devoe added. “Just going is an exciting part.”