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GT team on its way

May 6, 2014

Germantown — It almost took a little imagination to get Germantown's Destination Imagination teams to the Global Finals competition this year. The district is sending 11 teams to the competition, to be held in Knoxville, Tenn., at the end of May. And while fundraising efforts occur for the teams throughout the school year, an almost $78,000 price tag was deemed a little steep by the Germantown School Board.

"These children and young adults are exceptional ambassadors for the Germantown School District," said board member Bruce Warnimont. "When the board dropped the ball on fulfilling a funding obligation to not only this program but any extracurricular program where students qualify to go on to the national level I firmly believe with all my heart that we owe it to these children to keep (supporting them). We promise them great things and then (to) cut them off at the knees is absolutely wrong."

Instead the board on April 28 opted to use $32,287.50 from the board contingency fund to apply toward the registration fees, as well as $13,350 in travel expenses, a move for which Germantown High School DI coordinator Mary Bykowksi said the teams are beyond thankful.

"When news spread that the district was providing transportation funding and half of the cost teams were astounded, as there is almost as much work that goes into fundraising efforts as working for months on the team challenge," said Bykowski, who added Germantown has never missed having representation at the finals competition. "We as a DI group are very blessed to have the funding come our way ... we have a number of graduating seniors that may not have gone if it weren't for the generosity of the board."

That generosity will enable 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 begins in October and continues 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.

"Team successes are partly due to the fact that many students have been involved in the program since second grade," said Bykowski, who also is a regional co-director and sits on the Wisconsin Destination Imagination board of directors. "Throughout their time in the program, teams learn lifelong skills as far as teamwork, time management, budgeting, creative problem solving and having fun while doing it."

Fun is the name of the game for fourth-grader Gideon Kannenberg, of the County Line Force Resistors team.

"It is using what we are learning in school and having fun while working with new and old friends," Kannenberg said, adding that he can't wait to meet teams from around the world.

The friendships she has forged are something Germantown High School senior Kelly Bykowski said she will miss most about participating in DI. A participant in the program for 11 years, Kelly said she has gained many valuable experiences she hopes to put to practice in college and beyond.

"I've always been interested in how things work mechanically, so I've always done the technical elements in our challenges," Kelly said. "Over the years, I've learned to solder, weld, do electrical wiring, use any power tool you can find and do a reasonable job painting."

Warnimont said the program has helped put Germantown on the academic map.

"I know several families who, when they moved to Wisconsin for jobs, they moved to Germantown because of our reputation with this program," Warnimont said.

Teams Attending Finals

MacArthur Elementary: The Pint-Sized Picassos (structure challenge)

MacArthur Elementary: Sixth Sense (technical challenge)

County Line Elementary: Force Resistors (structural challenge)

Rockfield Elementary: The Moosaics (theater arts)

Kennedy Middle School: Brrrr…..It's Cold! (scientific challenge)

Kennedy Middle School: KMS Improv (improvisational challenge)

Kennedy Middle School: The Tension Builds (structure challenge)

Germantown High School: GHS-Tech (technical challenge)

Germantown High School: Laugh Art Loud (theater arts)

Germantown High School: GHS Improv (improvisational challenge)

Germantown High School: GHS Structure (structure challenge)

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