There is something special brewing at Coal Ridge High School.
A group of high school seniors is trying to complete a nearly incomprehensible achievement against the most outstanding and creative high school talent from around the world, all while maintaining their grade point averages, and their amazing friendship.
Coal Ridge High School seniors Jorge Vazquez, Sara Scott, James Valenteen, Garrett Senor, India Vasquez and Ruger Goodwin have competed in Destination Imagination as a team for the last four years. As freshmen, they were honored just to advance to the state competition and amazed when they earned a trip to the global competition in Knoxville, Tenn. That was the first step in what was to become a most amazing journey of creativity, thought-provoking conversation and friendship that will last a lifetime.
Destination Imagination is a team event. Teams are given a project to complete without any outside help even from their challenge master or coach as they develop their story, costumes, set and props. As they prepare for the competition, teams can choose from one of several different scenarios, each with a slightly different focus, but all of which include creating a story line, creating their own props and acting.
This year Garfield Re-2 had 12 teams compete in the regional competition, five advanced to the state competition and CRHS’s team Literally a Sponge advanced to the global competition for the fourth consecutive year — a feat that is unheard of in DI circles. They will make their final trip as a team to Knoxville May 19-25.
“Our team is very much like a great relationship,” said Sara Scott.
“Because we are such great friends, that has helped our success,” added Jorge Vazquez.
Their coach Karren Valenteen says that their camaraderie is a large part of their success, but their work ethic doesn’t hurt.
“We have three amazing artists on this team, and each is a perfectionist. It means that sometimes the things that we want to accomplish takes longer, but they are absolutely breathtaking,” she explained.
This year’s journey has been exceptionally taxing because most of the students are in advanced placement or college classes through Colorado Mountain College, are busy preparing scholarships to support their college career, and many of them hold full-time jobs as well. That makes assembling the entire team at one time difficult. Add to that the year-round fundraising activities that make it possible for the team to travel to the global competition and these seniors have had a busy year.
The benefits, however, are well worth it.
The team Literally a Sponge has competed against and made friends with teams from across the nation and around the world. They have served as an ambassador team at the DI tournament for teams from Turkey and China. This year, several of the members will graduate at a special ceremony that the Destination Imagination tournament hosts for seniors — a ceremony that will include the best and brightest students from around the world. Jorge and Sara will return early to graduate at CRHS — hopefully with a DI medal around their neck.
“One of the things that has been so great about traveling to globals,” said coach Valenteen, ”is to see that kids are so much alike regardless of their country of origin. They may have different food, a different language, and believe different things, but ultimately, they are just teenagers, and it’s fun to see our kids make such great connections with kids from around the world.”
“That’s my favorite part of globals,” added Jorge, “all of the different people.”
Literally a Sponge continues to fundraise to have enough money to travel to the global Destination Imagination tournament. They will be hosting three parent night out activities on Fridays, May 2, 9 and 16, at Cactus Valley Elementary from 6-10 p.m. Parents can drop their kids off for a fun night of movies and games for a donation to support the team. They will be hosting a Mystery Theatre at CRHS on May 10, and finally, for anyone that would like to see their award-winning performance, they will have a community performance on Saturday, May 3, at Coal Ridge High School. For more information about these events contact Karren Valenteen at 274-8121.
Re-2 school board and Wamsley give honors
Wamsley Elementary hosted the Garfield Re-2 school board meeting April 22 and they honored McDonald’s and Rent-A Center as Businesses of the Month, Tammy Wynia as Staff Member of the Month, and Jackie Self as Volunteer of the Month. Thank you to the businesses, volunteers and staff that make WES a great place.
If you have questions about the content of this column or about Garfield Re-2 School District contact Theresa Hamilton, director of Districtwide Services at 970-665-7621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.