Maharishi School Destination ImagiNation teams returned this year with two top ten finishes at the May 20-23 Global Finals, held at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Approximately 60 teams from the United States and around the world performed in each competitive category.
Earning 5th place in the High School Improvisation challenge were team members Jordan Town, Nathaniel Zhu, Marcus Schoenfeld, Caleb Mullenneaux, and Tomas Bousquet.
“This is just a naturally funny, very coherent, spontaneously creative group,” said DI program director Mark Wilkins, describing how the team met the challenge of improvisational acting on a very large stage. Wilkins was also the team manager for this group.
“Improvisation is actually better in a more intimate setting, but our team had a stage at Global Finals probably ten times larger than our school auditorium stage. Our guys were dwarfed but physically used the whole stage. They became an avalanche that rolled across the stage. One member became a boat that they all sailed away on.”
Earning 9th place in the High School Structure challenge were team members Bella Unger, Cecilia Faircrest, Ivan Liu, Rain (Wang Yuning), Karan Chodankar, Frank (Li Wang), and Brandon Ragogna. The team was managed by Catrione Faircrest. While placing 9th out of 60 is good but not great, this team also won the prestigious Renaissance Award for outstanding creativity and innovation--“above and beyond,” as Mr. Wilkins explained.
“The structural challenge this year was not to add weight to a structure without having it collapse but to remove weight from a structure and still have it stand. Everyone had to build structures and devices for removing weight. Most groups removed a little weight here and a little there. Our team devised a hydraulic, robotic arm that pulled some securing pins and then removed all the weight in one piece. That really impressed the judges.”
The High School Fine Arts challenge team of Anna Unger, Loreena Hansen, Amie Saine, Lydia (Hanya Liu), and Riley (Haiyang Jiang) finished 4th in Instant Challenge portion of the challenge but finished overall in the challenge in 27th place. The team coach was Suzannah Schindler.
The top raw score in the Instant Challenge portion was 96, and the MSAE team scored 93. “The problem was that there was an essential element to the challenge that they did not include, and this brought down their final score. Coaches are not allowed to provide any input, so we could not advise them on this.”
Placing 15th in the Scientific Challenge category was the Maharishi Lower School 4th/5th grade team of Devrishi Eisner, Jayanta Wegman, Jeremy Goodale, Blake Jarmosco, and Jack Unger. This team was managed by Keith Wegman and Michael Eisner.
Their “Making Waves” scientific challenge was to build a machine that made sound that changed pace as the narrative of the presentation changed. “They were hilarious,” Mr. Wilkins said. “They put their skit on the make-believe planet of Balloonia.”
Managed by Kerri Biancalana, the other Lower School team of boys, Gabriel Dieter, Gavin Biancalana, Noah McNamara, Mekhi Kahid and Chacho Roesler, placed lower in the standings.
Mr. Wilkins felt it was a good learning experience for them, though. “Being there will prepare them for next year and give them a better competitive edge.”
Mr. Wilkins summed up his pride of the effort and success of the school’s teams by saying, “All the teams had their best performances of the year at Global Finals.” Next year’s program will begin in September.