By Sue Botos
When Rocky River Middle School students Katie Malquest, Abbie Stoner and Megan Fox decided to do a community service project for the Destination Imagination competition, they turned to Mayor Pam Bobst for guidance.
Stoner, who along with Malquest just finished seventh grade, explained that they and Fox, an outgoing sixth-grader, had three ideas for a project: a food drive, helping the survivors of the Sandy Hook school shooting and storm awareness and preparation.
After meeting with Bobst, and recalling the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the students focused on storm readiness as their topic, putting together a presentation that brought home first place at the Destination Imagination regional tournament in April, and qualified the team for the state competition.
But the girls brought their project closer to home by creating a contest for Kensington Middle School students to encourage their families to sign up for Nixle, a text message alert system, and the city’s E-Update newsletter.
Laura Cook’s fourth-graders were the winning class, signing up 16 new members for the alert systems, and earning a pizza party plus visits from the Destination Imagination squad as well as Bobst.
According to Stoner, Destination Imagination teams choose from one of seven challenges on which to base their project. These challenges, described on the DI website (www.destinationimagination.org) are developed by educators and other industry experts and are centered on students having fun while incorporating STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) concepts into their work.
After spending weeks readying their presentation, which included a video about storm preparation, the students participated in the regional tournament in Chagrin Falls. “The best part was making the movie. We got to wear fake mustaches and pretend to be someone else,” Malquest said. She added that the team members portrayed news anchors during a broadcast and included details about the work behind the project.
(Kensington fourth-graders Erik Tang, David Marshall and Connor McKenna were also first in their regional division.)
Their first-place finish qualified them to move on to the state tournament on April 20 at Mount Vernon Nazarene University, where they placed eighth among 13 teams in their division.
Originally, the students hoped to run the alert sign-up contest at the middle school. “We tried it at the middle school, but it didn’t work. A lot of middle schoolers are pretty forgetful,” she said with a laugh.
“This speaks to their dedication,” commented faculty advisor Meredith Muccio.
As for Cook’s class, the students couldn’t have been happier. “If you could have heard the screaming when they made the announcement … ,” Cook commented.
As part of their meeting with Cook’s class, the three middle school students made a congratulatory video for the class and made a brief presentation. “We’re so happy you guys took part,” Stoner told the class.
All three team members said they plan on participating in the competition again. The contest is open to students, in groups of up to seven, from elementary grades through high school.
Bobst urged the students in Cook’s class to stay active in the community. “We were concerned about Hurricane Sandy and that we weren’t prepared. It’s most important to tell people to sign up for Nixle and the E-Update,” she said.