PRMS improv champs advance to Destination Imagination Global Finals

Photo by Joanne Degnan/The Robbinsville Sun Pond Road Middle School eighth-grader Rachna Sridhar cries tears of joy after accepting her team’s first-place trophy in the NJ Destination Imagination State Finals. Sridhar and her teammates on the “Hex Girls” team now advance to the global tournament in Knoxville, Tennessee May 22-25.

Photo by Joanne Degnan/The Robbinsville Sun
Pond Road Middle School eighth-grader Rachna Sridhar cries tears of joy after accepting her team’s first-place trophy in the NJ Destination Imagination State Finals. Sridhar and her teammates on the “Hex Girls” team now advance to the global tournament in Knoxville, Tennessee May 22-25.

A zany five-minute improv skit parodying child beauty pageants, complete with little divas, pushy mothers, and a commercial for Honey Boo-Boo’s “go-go juice,” launched six Pond Road Middle School girls to a first-place finish March 23 in the NJ Destination Imagination State Finals.

Eighth-graders Abigail Valerio, Melissa DeShaw, Bonvie Fosam, Megan Marsala, Rachna Sridhar and Kaeleigh Sturgeon, aka the Hex Girls, now take their creative talents on the road next month to Knoxville, Tennessee for DI’s Global Finals, an international creative problem-solving competition where thousands of teams from all over the world will gather to solve various challenges using technical, theatrical, structural, improvisational or scientific skills.

The Robbinsville School District had a total of 10 teams competing in different age categories in the DI State Finals, a 12-hour marathon of challenges in which 128 New Jersey teams competed in a battle of wits on the district’s home turf inside Robbinsville High School. In addition to the Hex Girls’ first-place finish, two other Robbinsville teams earned second-place and third-place trophies, and RHS junior Andin Fosam also won a $1,000 college scholarship prize for a video she created about how DI problem-solving skills have helped her in cheerleading.

Photo by Joanne Degnan/The Robbinsville Sun The members of the champion Hex Girl team bound for the Destination Imagination Global Finals next month are from left: Abigail Valerio, Melissa DeShaw, Bonvie Fosam, Megan Marsala, Rachna Sridhar and Kaeleigh Sturgeon.

Photo by Joanne Degnan/The Robbinsville Sun
The members of the champion Hex Girl team bound for the Destination Imagination Global Finals next month are from left: Abigail Valerio, Melissa DeShaw, Bonvie Fosam, Megan Marsala, Rachna Sridhar and Kaeleigh Sturgeon.

Only teams that win first place are invited to advance to the global tournament, so when the master of ceremonies announced the Robbinsville Hex Girls had finished first in the state in their age category screams of joy erupted from the corner of the RHS gymnasiums where the six students and their team manager, parent Mary Valerio, were camped out. They began jumping up and down for joy and then ran to the awards table to receive their individual medals and team trophy.

“We’re going to globals!” screamed Rachna Sridhar to her teammates as tears of joy streamed down her face.

The judges, known in DI parlance as appraisers, also gave the Hex Girls a special Renaissance Award, commending them for displaying exceptional skills in “a sensational performance from beginning to end.”

Pond Road teacher Anne DiGiuseppe, who has run the DI program in Robbinsville for 15 years, said the DI challenges are all about teamwork.

“The kids have to be able to think on their feet and work together,” DiGiuseppe said.

Photo by Joanne Degnan/The Robbinsville Sun RHS students Sarah Williams, Jacob McGlew and Taylor LaCase, aka Team Exes, won second place in the high school age group in the “In Disguise” challenge category at the NJ Destination Imagination State Finals.

Photo by Joanne Degnan/The Robbinsville Sun
RHS students Sarah Williams, Jacob McGlew and Taylor LaCase, aka Team Exes, won second place in the high school age group in the “In Disguise” challenge category at the NJ Destination Imagination State Finals.

For example, while the Hex Girls had practiced an improvisational skit parodying the world of children’s beauty pageants (popularized by the TV show “Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo”), and knew they would only have white T-shirts and markers for props, it wasn’t until they were standing in front of the judges that they found what additional “improvisational elements” had to be integrated into their performance. And they had only five minutes to come up with a plan.

One last-minute “Changes in RealiTee,” as the challenge was called, was to incorporate a  commercial into their improvisation, so the girls quickly decided they would hawk “go-go juice” the high-energy concoction of Red Bull and Mountain Dew that is Honey Boo-Boo’s beverage of choice on the TV series to get ramped up for beauty pageants.

Told at the last-minute that their improvisation must address a randomly selected problem of “no skis” they decided their beauty pageant would have a snowsuit competition, instead of a swimsuit competition, and that one of the contestants would forget to bring her skis, dooming her to defeat. The girls quickly determined on the fly who would play the roles of contestants, who would be the pushy mothers, who would be the judges and who would be the pageant master of ceremonies, as well as who would do what in the “go-go juice” commercial. The result was hilarious, with one appraiser writing in her evaluation that she laughed so hard she cried.

Other Robbinsville winners at the state DI tournament included a three-member high school team, coached by Angie LaCase, called Team Exes. Ninth-grader Sarah Williams and 10th-graders Jacob McGlew and Taylor LaCase won a second place in their age group for their team’s “In Disguise” challenge featuring a mime skit.

Photo by Joanne Degnan/The Robbinsville Sun The Robbinsville Warriors, a team of Pond Road Middle School fifth-graders, won third-place in their age category for their “In the Zone” challenge at the Destination Imagination State Finals.

Photo by Joanne Degnan/The Robbinsville Sun
The Robbinsville Warriors, a team of Pond Road Middle School fifth-graders, won third-place in their age category for their “In the Zone” challenge at the Destination Imagination State Finals.

A team of Pond Road fifth-graders, coached by Susan Weintraub and Diana Brandani,  known as the Robbinsville Warriors (Enzo Brandani, Michael Lim, Danny Marincas, Timothy Riley, Michael Weintraub, and Brandon Yoo) came in third place for their efforts in their age group in the “In the Zone” challenge.

Four other Robbinsville teams that finished in the Top 10 in their respective age groups.

Imagination XXL, coached by Katina Pearl-Blando, took sixth place in the “In the Zone” challenge. Team members include Jonathan Blando, grade 4 PRMS; Griffin David, grade 3 Sharon School; Ashrith Pagedemarry, grade 4 PRMS; Ethan Macedo, grade 3 Sharon School; Dhruv Peechara, grade 5 PRMS; and Sushank Soma, grade 5 PRMS.

Rainbow Avengers, coached by Klaus Hofenbitzer, tied for ninth place in the “In Disguise” challenge. The team members are all seventh-graders at PRMS and include: Steven David, Connor Hofenbitzer, Emily Marsch, Revika Singh, Mrinali Taskar and Caedan Wallace.

The Banana Brains, coached by Tom McEntee, took sixth place in the “Changes in RealiTee” challenge. The team, all sixth-graders at PRMS, includes Gillian Carr, Jordyn David, Max Farber-McEntee, Maddie Johnson, Morgan Serra and Ethan Silberberg.

Triple Threat, coached by Peggy Fallon, took fifth place for the “Changes in RealiTees” challenge. The team includes RHS juniors Kelsey Anderson, Andin Fosam and Shika Lakshman.

 

 

 

 


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