Journal One-on-One

Winterport student team advances to Destination Imagination Global Finals

By Jordan Bailey | May 08, 2014
Photo by: Jordan Bailey The Freezing Diamonds sit down to talk with The Republican Journal. From left are Sam Jagger, Johannah Philbrook, Carly Philbrook, Olivia Saucier, Elizabeth Burgess, Gracie Farrar and Renee Drake.

Winterport — A team of seven fourth-graders from the Leroy H. Smith school in Winterport came in second place in the science category at the Maine Destination Imagination tournament.

They have earned the opportunity to attend the DI Global Finals event in Tennessee, where they will compete and celebrate with teams from 45 states, seven Canadian provinces and 13 countries.

Richard Fernald, Maine director of Destination Imagination, said 83 teams brought their creative skills to the state tournament at the University of Maine in Orono March 22, where they competed in one of six challenges that ranged from technical to fine arts. "[Fifteen teams] have indeed earned the right to compete at a Global level," Fernald said. "I'm confident that Maine will have a good showing."

The global finals will take place at the University of Tennessee May 21-24 and will include exhibits by NASA, National Geographic, 3M, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and other companies that prize creativity and innovation. The Winterport team, which calls itself the Freezing Diamonds, is trying to raise $10,000 for registration and transportation costs to attend for themselves and chaperones.

"Both Maine DI and National DI are 501 (c)3 non-profits, so all the money raised goes right to the creative process and not to salaries," said Fernald. "The money the children are raising is for transportation costs, room and board and incidental costs."

The Republican Journal met with team sponsor Erica Farrar and the Freezing Diamonds team at Leroy H Smith school Friday, May 2.

TRJ: What is Destination Imagination all about?

Sam Jagger: "Destination Imagination is kids from schools who get together and do projects that use your creativity and your imagination and put it all into one."

Erica Farrar: "The global finals celebrate intelligence and creativity and teamwork. It's a global celebration of those skills."

TRJ: What was your presentation at the state tournament and how did you advance to finals?

Gracie Farrar: "We did a challenge called 'going to extremes' where we had to choose an extreme environment and had to have characters adapt to their environment with extreme gear. Our extreme gear was fire."

Olivia Saucier: "And our environment was the arctic tundra or back planet."

Carly Philbrook: "We had to present a skit in 8 minutes and judges scored it."

Elizabeth Burgess: "We had to have a good presentation and show the appraisers how much creativity and how much teamwork we have. Oh — and sportsmanship."

Olivia Saucier: "We won the second place wild card which means we came in second, and since a lot of teams chose our challenge, they sent first place and second place to the finals too." [Usually only first place advances to finals.]

TRJ: Did you have to do anything else at the state tournament?

Johannah Philbrook: "We also had to do an instant challenge which we cannot tell anyone about until after the global finals, or we will be disqualified. We did a very good job on it and got the highest score in Maine."

Renee Drake: "We did the best instant challenge in the state. We also got the Spirit of DI award, and that is better than first place."

Gracie Farrar: "They gave us the Spirit of DI award because we showed great sportsmanship, we were clapping for people we didn't know, we were quiet in the halls when people were working and we had great teamwork."

TRJ: What else goes on at the global finals?

Gracie Farrar: "We go to Knoxville, Tenn. for globals. We go to opening and closing ceremonies, which are really wild with lots of flashing lights. There is also a 'Duct Tape Ball,' where you get to create a duct-tape costume like Renee is wearing, and you get to dance. There is a live band there and it's really fun. Last year there were a lot of Disney characters."

Johanna Philbrook: "We also get to do something called pin trading. We have to bring Maine pins, and we can trade them with other teams. I got two pins from China last year."

TRJ: Have you ever traveled this far before?

Renee Drake: "Four of us have already gone to globals last year."

TRJ: What's the story behind Freezing Diamonds, your team name?

Sam Jagger: "It came from the new planet that Olivia found out about in National Geographic called a diamond planet. The freezing part of the name is because our skit is in the arctic."

TRJ: What do you have to do to prepare for Tennessee?

Carly Philbrook: "We have to make our skit better and practice for instant challenges."

Olivia Saucier: "We have to do a lot of fundraising, too. We are trying to raise $10,000."

Erica Fararr: "We're about halfway to our goal. We have an online site on gofundme.com. Anyone who is interested in donating can do so by going there and typing in Freezing Diamonds [in the search field]. The communities have been very supportive. We live in a very small town, and they are rallying around us to help get these kids this experience."

TRJ: Thank you, and good luck!

The Freezing Diamonds are, from left: Carly Philbrook, Sam Jagger, Olivia Saucier, Johannah Philbrook, Gracie Farrar, Renee Drake (in a duct-tape dress) and Elizabeth Burgess. (Photo by: Jordan Bailey)
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