Germantown — A message of sincere gratitude resonated loud and clear to the standing room only meeting of the Germantown School Board on Monday, June 23.
Representatives from several Desination Imagination teams, as well as their parents and coaches, filled the seats donning their "you're gonna hear us ROAR" T-shirts. And roar they did, in thanks to the school board for helping fund their trip to the Global competition in May.
The school board voted in April to contribute about $45,600 to cover the almost $80,000 price tag to send the district's 11 qualifying teams to the competition, which occurred in Knoxville, Tenn. That generosity enabled the teams of up to seven students to compete in their choice of seven team challenges at the competition, May 21-24. Preparation for the challenges began in October and continued throughout the school year for students from elementary through high school grades. The competition includes projects in a number of categories — technical, scientific, fine arts, structural, improvisation and service-oriented.
It was the largest contribution the board has made since it significantly reduced funding for DI a couple of years ago, and it was a move for which Germantown High School DI coordinator Mary Bykowski said the teams are beyond appreciative. In addition to awarding the board members with gifts and thank you notes from students, Bykowski voiced her thanks to the board, adding that it was an honor to represent the district that has never missed having representation at the final competition.
"You can be very proud of the teams that go (to Globals)," she said. "When we tell other people we are from Germantown, they react. They know who we are (because) we have a very supporting group here in Germantown; there is a passion about what we do for our kids."
All 11 teams placed in the top 20, including the 13th-place Pint Sized Picasso team from MacArthur.
Nerves were not an issue for fifth-graders Megan Stewart and Abby Liker as they competed. The same could not be said as they waited their turn to approach the board.
"Are you nervous?" Stewart's mom, Lilibeth Yao, asked her daughter, who timidly responded with a nod.
But when the time came, their message was clear.
"Thank you so much for supporting Destination Imagination," said Stewart, on behalf of the Pint Sized Picasso team. "I think it's so much fun because I can try many new ideas and skills that I've learned from school."
In addition to testing out new skills as part of the challenge, Stewart and her team were assigned as a buddy team with the group from Qatar.
"It was such a special experience," said Yao, "not only for them to be able travel and compete, but to learn about the culture of those from another country. And now, being here to say thank you, really brings the experience full circle."
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