Cheam students set sights on Tennessee

Cheam elementary's Destination ImagiNation team is fundraising to go to the national competition in Knoxville, Tennessee next month.

Cheam elementary's Destination ImagiNation team The Spitfires are fundraising for the global Destination ImagiNation competition in Knoxville

Cheam elementary's Destination ImagiNation team The Spitfires are fundraising for the global Destination ImagiNation competition in Knoxville

The Spitfires are going to Tennessee.

The team of five Grade 4 girls from Cheam elementary have won the opportunity to represent Chilliwack at the global Destination ImagiNation competition in Knoxville, Tennessee next month after placing first in both the regional and provincial tournaments held in March and April.

But they need help.

The cost of the trip is $7,500, which includes airfare, accommodations, and meals. So far, the group has raised $4,000.

“We’re in the middle of fundraising mania,” said parent and chaperone Jennifer Torio.

This year is the second year The Spitfires have won a spot in Tennessee, but because they weren’t prepared with fundraising last year, they had to bow out.

Not this year.

Since the start of the school year, the team as been heavily immersed in fundraising initiatives, and has also acquired $2,500 in sponsorships from local businesses and organizations.

But they only have one month left to go.

The global competition is from May 22-26.

“This is going to be huge for these girls,” said Torio. “It’s already provided them with so many great skills and values.”

Destination ImagiNation is an after-school creativity and problem-solving program that fosters complex thinking, teamwork and imagination. It teaches brainstorming skills, creative and critical thinking, time management, budget analysis and confidence.

Teams can choose between six different challenges, all of which involve an original theatrical component that must be performed in front of a panel of judges.

The Spitfires opted for improv.

With their challenge, the team is required to research six current, national news stories – no older than one week before a tournament – that they present to the judges at the competition.

The judges randomly choose one of the clippings and add another unrelated news story into the mix. The team is given five minutes to develop a skit based on both events.

But that’s not all.

In the last minute of preparation, the judges will add “a curve ball” that must be integrated into the performance.

“No adult is telling them what to do,” said Torio. “It is completely, 100 per cent the kids work.”

The Spitfires have been working together once a week since October, but have ramped up practices to twice a week since winning the provincial competition earlier this month.

“The kids are very focused and have really reached deep within themselves to turn out amazing presentations,” said team manager and parent Anna Markey. “They are motivated to do their best and are always trying to improve their performance.”

The global competition will feature 1,100 teams and 16,000 students.

On May 12, the Spitfires will be manning a bake sale at Cheam elementary’s Drive One 4 UR School event from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Anyone interested in sponsoring the team can contact Anna Markey at 604-795-6440 or the school at 604-792-1416.