By Christopher Roberson
When Superintendent of Schools Jane Tremblay arrived at work on April 13, she discovered that her office had been flocked with flamingos overnight as part of the Destination Imagination (DI) fundraising effort. “I think it was great that I got flocked at my office,” she said. “The challenge now is to figure out who I will flock as part of the ongoing fundraiser.”
Money is being raised to send students from Lynnfield High School and Huckleberry Hill Elementary School to the University of Tennessee next month to compete in the DI Global Finals. DI’s Scientific Challenge is one of six Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)–based challenges offered by the organization.
“It’s really an unbelievable program; it really fosters creativity,” said Elaine Gravante, coach of the high school DI team.
She said the road to the finals began with the regional competition, which was held on March 17 in Beverly. The top two regional winners then advanced to the state competition, which was held on March 24 at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. From there, the top three winners from each state advanced to the finals in Tennessee. Gravante said that for her and her five students, the cost of traveling to Tennessee will range between $7,200 and $7,800.
However, she said flocking has been quite popular. “The kids go out after dark and have a ball doing it,” she said.
Gravante said other fundraisers will include electronic recycling on May 12 and raffling off four tickets to Fenway Park to watch the Red Sox take on the Seattle Mariners on June 22. She is also working on setting up a fitness camp as a third fundraiser.
Senior Molly Pifko said this year’s Scientific Challenge, Unlikely Attraction, focuses on the idea of amusement park rides operating in an unusual location. The team will present a story about its attraction using an array of sights and sounds. “Our skit is set in a tree house,” said Pifko, adding that the team’s chosen attraction is a high striker.
Gravante’s son Dominick, also a senior, said the attraction will be a modified version of the high strikers at carnivals. “Like the carnival, it’s all flashy and fun,” he said.
Having 10 years’ experience in DI and two prior trips to the finals, Dominick said there is a tremendous amount of time and effort that goes into designing the project. “When you’re finished, you have a very detailed concept of what you’re going to make,” he said.
Gravante said that in addition to her son and Pifko, the other team members are seniors Alberto Benitez, Mackayla Maffeo and Raden Sorli Hawk.
According to the DI website, two million students from 45 states and seven countries have participated in challenges since the organization was established in 1982. DI also awards $100,000 in scholarships each year.