GAZETTE: Imaginative Delavan elementary school students headed to Knoxville

Re-print courtesy of the Janesville Gazette:

May 3, 2014

Gazette Photo

Members of the Turtle Creek Elementary School Destination Imagination team put a big finish on their presentation. They are, clockwise from front, Isabel Calhoun, Drew Calhoun, Marissa Torres-Raby, Nathally Hernandez, 4th and Camden Dufer. – Gazette photo by Dan Lassiter.

DELAVAN—Put a group of kids together for a school project, and invariably they’ll fall into certain categories: Leaders, worker bees and slackers.

Turtle Creek School’s Destination ImagiNation team has broken that mold. A group of seven students from ages 6 to 11 and from first to fifth grades, have created a Destination ImagiNation sketch that was good enough to send them to a global competition being held in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The team, which is coached by Turtle Creek Elementary teachers Michelle Turner and Elizabeth Calhoun, is called the “Seven Amigos.”

Destination ImagiNation is a program in which students pick a challenge in one of seven areas. The Seven Amigos picked “Laugh ART Loud.” It required them to present a “live” comic strip based on a work of art. They had to use an item from the painting—an “ARTifact”—in the sketch. In addition, they had to find an original way to display the “captions” for the comics on stage.

The result was a sketch that featured third-grade student Ashton Flores as guard in a  museum where Diego Rivera paintings, including the “Dance of Tehuantepec,” comes to life.

Miguel Rodriguez, a thoughtful fifth grader, narrates the story. Rodriguez is  generally quiet, but when he speaks, it’s usually to offer an incredible idea, said Turner.

Flores, who should win an Oscar for best third grader in a comic role, slips on a banana peel—fallen from the painting?—and ends up dreaming the whole episode. Out come the dancers from the painting: Drew Calhoun, first grade; , Nathally Hernandez, fourth grade; Camden Dufer, fifth grade; and Isabel Calhoun, fourth grade.

Turtle Creek Elementary School third-grader Ashton Flores portrays Paco the security guard in the Destination ImagiNation team's presentation. - Gazette photo by Dan Lassiter

Turtle Creek Elementary School third-grader Ashton Flores portrays Paco the security guard in the Destination ImagiNation team’s presentation. – Gazette photo by Dan Lassiter

Fourth grader Marissa Torres-Raby makes a graceful appearance as Frida Kahlo, painter and friend of Rivera.

Some of the dialogue is in Spanish, and various members of the cast hold up captions on placards that serve as English translations.

Isabel Calhoun plays one of Rivera’s daughters, and one of the best moments in the show is when she has to unroll a long piece of paper to read her father’s full name: “Diego Maria de la Concepcion Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodriguez.”

Most of the team members play two parts, and at one point Dufer disappears behind the scenery to operate a caption attached to a piñata.

“Working together was the hardest part,” said Torres-Raby. “There were so many ideas.”

In a speech to the Delavan-Darien Friends of the Visual and Performing Arts, Torres-Raby said “I wasn’t someone that was all ‘yippee”’ whenever the teacher said group of partners. I had one motto: ‘if you want something done, do it yourself. ‘”

Along with the prepared skit, the students will also be given an “instant challenge,” that will require them to create a two-minute performance in five minutes.  The judges watch the students’ creative process to make sure all students are contributing, Turner said.

At a recent practice, the coaches gave them an “instant challenge.” Even the youngest child participated in its creation, jumping up and down to offer ideas.

Three other teams from the Delavan-Darien School District also made it to state competition.


Turtle Creek Elementary School’s DestiNation Imagination team  is now raising money to pay for a four-day trip to global competition in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Along with the competition, the students will take part in special learning challenges. Students are encouraged to visit with competitors from other countries, and  their coaches hope to establish a “sister team” with another school.

The students need to raise about $8,000 for the trip.

The students are hosting a garage sale, and sold food at the Cinco De Mayo Festival.

Donations can be sent to Turtle Creek Elementary, 1235 Creek Road, Delavan, WI., 53115. Checks can be made out to DestiNation Imagination.

Or, click here to donate online!

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324 Beloit St. Delavan, WI 53115
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