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Destination ImagiNation team headed to global competition

Buzzing Bees team members Savannah Anez, 10, left, Jessa Hanson, 10, and Alex Gomez, 8, discuss the bee puppets used in their presentation Wednesday during a performance at Kennedy Elementary School in Willmar. In the problem-solving program called Destination ImagiNation, the Buzzing Bees competed in a category requiring team members to create a theatrical presentation to demonstrate communication between creatures. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)

WILLMAR -- Sir Cumference finally found the right shape for the knights' table, with the help of some folks named Lady Di(ameter) and Radius.

The leprechauns went looking for a pot of gold and encountered a bee hive instead. When one bee attracted many others, they saw how bees can communicate without words. With a song and dance, the leprechauns demonstrated how they communicated, too.

The Willmar Destination ImagiNation teams from Kennedy Elementary School were a hit with the judges at the state competition April 18.

A team named Ye Old Cardinals scored second in the state and was invited to participate in the global competition May 20-23 in Knoxville, Tenn. The Buzzing Bees team placed sixth in the state.

Destination ImagiNation is a creative problem-solving program open to competitors from kindergarten through college. It operates in all 50 states and more than 40 countries.

Ye Old Cardinals participated in the ViDIo Lit Hits category. They performed a live music video based on the book, "Sir Cumference and the First Round Table." Their assignment was to create a video based on a piece of literature.

The Buzzing Bees were in the Instinct Messaging category. Their charge was to create a theatrical presentation to demonstrate communication between creatures.

The teams built theater sets for their presentations, and they sang and danced to tell their stories.

Kennedy teacher Angie Michelson said the program in Willmar has grown in the past several years. This was an exciting year, with both teams placing in the state competition. No Willmar team has ever gone to the global competition before.

Michelson said adult coaches can offer encouragement to the teams, "but you cannot give any ideas. ... The kids have to do everything themselves." For example, a coach can teach students how to use tools, but the team members have to do the work.

For The Buzzing Bees, team member Tayler Tjaden visited with a bee farmer, and he learned a lot to help with their skit.

"I think the hardest part was coming up with our skit and what animal we had to choose," said Francis Winter. Team members said they learned from developing their presentation.

Coach Theresa Winter said her work was to keep the team on track. "We had lots of ideas," she said, and she tried to move them toward making decisions.

Ye Old Cardinals were "certain" they wanted a medieval theme right away, said coach Amanda Pehrson.

The students in that group used a computer to put together the background music for their performance about Sir Cumference and his search for the proper table. Oval and diamond shapes were rejected before he tried a circle.

The work on building sets, writing the song and developing costumes built relationships on the team. "You may have known people before, but they're friends now," said Olivia Hagen.

The Buzzing Bees team members are Francis Winter, Jessa Hanson, Savannah Anez, Sophie Schmitz, Alice Lindgren, Tayler Tjaden and Alex Gomez. Team manager is Theresa Winter.

Ye Old Cardinals team members are Brady Newcomer, Carly Hulstein, Olivia Hagen, Addie Erickson, Ethan Panchyshyn, Rachel Swanson and Ben Lanning. Team managers are Amanda Pehrson and Angie Michelson.