Members of Howland's Destination Imagination team recently brought home a Region 1 title and a seventh-place finish at the state tournament.
The team, comprised of two girls and five boys ranging from first to fifth grade, is coached by Melissa Lattanzi and Lorie Rhine, who both see the success of the team as a testament to how hard their kids have worked since last year.
''We start in mid-October and the regional tournament is in March,'' said Lattanzi. ''The practice two days a week for a total of about five hours a week.''
Howland Community News / Joshua S. Flesher
Members of Howland’s Destination Imagination team pose with their Region I title trophies. The team went on to compete at the state and had a seventh-place finish.
This year, the team was comprised of Lattanzi's children, Leah and Paul, Rhine's son, Kyle, siblings, Andrew and Alex Ochman, Nathan Nadler and George Beatty-Marsh.
So, what is Destination Imagination?
''It is a national program and the focus is to help the kids develop critical thinking skills and creativity... and team building,'' Lattanzi said.
The tournaments are held across the country, with winners in each region moving on to the state level and the state winner going to a national tournament.
This year, the kids from Howland spent the five months getting ready for ''Challenge D: Do or DI'' which is geared toward teaching students improvisational acting, story development, teamwork and to sharpen their skills of research.
Each team competing in Challenge D had to create a five-minute skit incorporating three different items.
''They had 10 endangered items and 10 stock characters,'' said Lattanzi. ''they had to develop a skit using something from the endangered items and incorporate characters.''
Then, on the day of the tournament, the team had to draw one item from each category as well as a third category that they had to incorporate without practice.
Although the challenges are fun for the students, what they are learning about and how they develop a working team is what the program is all about.
''This year they learned about these endangered items that they knew nothing about,'' said Lattanzi. ''What they are learning is invaluable, both in how they grow and how they perform.''
Taking first place in Challenge D in Mount Vernon in April, punched the team's ticket to the state tournament where they performed well, finishing seventh.
Next year, Lattanzi, Rhine and their team look to build on this season's successes and to continue spreading the word on Destination Imagination and what it has to offer to those who are committed to learning and competing.