Ashby Lee students move on to state competition

Ashby Lee Elementary School students show off their ribbons and trophy from the regional Destination Imagination competition in Winchester. From top left: Leah Diehl, 9, of Mount Jackson, team coach; Kina Eaton, of New Market;Noah Bauserman, 9, of Strasburg. From bottom left: Faith Halterman, 10, of New Market; Maggie Eaton, 9, of New Market; Matthew Halterman, 8, of New Market. Courtesy photo

QUICKSBURG – Ashby Lee Elementary School students placed second overall in an improvisation competition in Winchester this month, allowing them to move on to the state level.

Students from third to fifth grade competed in the regional Destination Imagination competition at Handley High School in Winchester on March 5. There were seven teams in the region that competed at the elementary level.

Out of the three teams that competed from Ashby Lee, one team placed second and will move on to the state competition on April 9 in Mechanicsville.

The winning team included five students: Noah Bauserman, 9, of Strasburg; Matthew Halterman, 8, of New Market; Faith Halterman, 10, of New Market; Maggie Eaton, 9, of New Market; Leah Diehl, 9, of Mount Jackson.

Kina Eaton, the team’s coach, said she has enjoyed working with the kids and seeing them grow and form new friendships.

Ashby Lee Elementary School students practice before their state Destination Imagination competition in April. From left: Faith Halterman, 10, of New Market; Noah Bauserman, 9, of Strasburg;Leah Diehl, 9, of Mount Jackson;Matthew Halterman, 8, of New Market; and Maggie Eaton, 9, of New Market. Kaley Toy/Daily

“It’s been really rewarding to see them succeed,” she said.

The other two teams from Ashby Lee had team names of T.H.I.S and A Few Good Scientists. T.H.I.S had a technical challenge and A Few Good Scientists had a scientific challenge they had to complete at the competition.

There were two parts to the competition. One was the main challenge where students had to act out an improvisation routine based off a few given details.

Eaton said they could select from several different challenges, but “the one that they chose was improvisational close encounters.”

They had spent the last six months researching six different locations but they didn’t know which one of the six they would be given until they were called onto stage. They had to include as much research about their given location into the performance as possible.

All research had to be handwritten and checked by the judges beforehand.

“It has to be their work,” she said.

They also had to create props to use during their routine.

A mysterious character was also provided who had to be incorporated into their skit as well, but they weren’t given this character until right before they performed. Their mysterious character was a cheerleader from the chess club, and was played by Faith.

A “news flash” was also given to the team right before the performance.

There are also rules that had to be followed. They were confined to a 6-foot by 8-foot rectangle. They were also given time restraints. They had three minutes to make props and discuss their routine. The performance was timed to last four minutes.

The main challenge was 75 percent of the team’s score.

The other part of the competition, and filling in the other 25 percent of their score, was an instant challenge that was task- or performance-based, or a combination of both.

“We had a time at 11 a.m. that we went for our instant challenge and we were led silently down a hallway,” she said. “They had to sign a waiver of secrecy. We still have not been able to tell anybody about it.”

The team placed first in the main challenge, and second place overall. This was the first year that the school has participated in the event.

Judges, called appraisers, scored each performance based on how well they performed as a team and adhered to the guidelines.

“All of the appraisers were completely volunteer and they were wonderful to our kids and just really creative people,” she said.

She added that the appraisers were blown away by the kids’ success at their first competition.

“It’s amazing that other than being in GATE together here at school, they’ve never worked together as a team,” she said.

To get them working as a team, she said, they made a list of what it takes to make a good team and they had to adhere to it.

She also noted that working with creative kids can be difficult as their minds can wander in a thousand different directions, and as their coach she needs to reign them in and bring them back to reality at times.

The students said they learned a lot from their experience at the competition, which they felt will help them do even better at the state level.

Noah said, “We had to learn a lot of skills on making stuff out of newspaper.” He also said that the appraiser wore big alien feet and “it was close encounters, like the movie, so when the judges were ready, instead of saying they were ready, they had little beeps from the movie.”

Matthew added, “And before we went in, he had a flashlight and he had to check us to see if we were human.”

Maggie said, “We also had to do a lot of research on the places that we decided on.”

Matthew noted, “A hard part that we did was working together because we sort of struggled with that but then we started getting better at it.”

Leah added, “We also struggled with finding out how to work together better on the instant challenges because they are really challenging for our team.”

The team is also looking forward to moving on to states .

Noah said, “I’m excited about making the judges laugh once again.”

Matthew added, “I’m excited about the instant challenge because we’ve been practicing a lot more because we didn’t do so well on our instant challenge.”

They have put a lot of effort into this event, Bauserman said. “They’ve come together like a team.”

The team had been practicing four months before the regional competition and continues to practice an hour twice every week.

“It’s been a big commitment,” she said.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or