After watching fourth-graders Justin Hill of Upper Marlboro and Shad Holston of Bowie, both 9, bang on a pair of trash cans, four other students at Bowie-based Tulip Grove Elementary shuffle about, before an idea forms.
“We should form a band!” said Gary Vines, 9, of Bowie.
It sounds like it could be the origin of a pop band, but the trio and Bowie residents Raven Ford, 9, Amber Chambers, 10, and Raven Robinson, 9, are practicing their improvisational skills for the upcoming Destination Imagination contest on April 5 at the University of Maryland, College Park. Destination Imagination is an organization that holds competitions for schools across the globe in which preschool through high-school students compete in creative and problem-solving tasks, one of which is putting on an improvisational skit involving a historical and modern character. The April contest is the state-level event, and the winners of that compete in the global competition in May.
The team placed second in the regional competition, where the students did an improvisational skit involving a silversmith and a nurse, who had to build a road. The competition allows the students to pick the historical character, but they are given a modern character to work with, said Yolanda Chambers, parent and team co-manager.
The second-place finish propelled Tulip Grove into the state level competition for the first time ever, said Sadarie Holston, Shad’s mother and team co-manager. The competition teaches students skills like project management and accessing their creativity.
“Technology is a gift and a curse,” said Holston of Bowie. “You have a computer to type for you. I think Destination Imagination ... it affords the children skills they need in the workforce.”
Students on the team said doing improv and being creative was fun, but there are other benefits as well.
“If we go to the global finals we get a vacation,” Raven said.
Tulip Grove’s principal Jaime W. Coffen said she was proud of the student’s creativity and efforts as the school’s first team to compete in the Destination Imagination state finals.
“They have set such a high bar for our school and our [Destination Imagination] program,” Coffen said. “I’m so proud of you and what you have done. I appreciate them and their parents.”
The students said they plan to continue participating in Destination Imagination as they grow older and Justin said it is a good after-school option for outgoing students.
“Before I actually started this ... my friends said ‘Justin, you talk too much. You would be great for improv,’” Justin said. “And now I find myself here, and you could say I like it.”