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Millis/Medway - Local Town Pages

Millis Senior DI Team Has Year Cut Short Will Participate in Virtual Global Finals in July

Jun 17, 2020 03:09PM ● By J.D. O’Gara

Millis’ Senior Improv Challenge DI team took second place at their regionals.

“They had an amazing solution, with hopes of going to global for the last time,” says Michelle Jones, who has coached the Millis senior Engineering Challenge Destination Imagination (DI) team for the past 13 years, taking the team to Globals three times, and participating at the State level all but one year. As with many other activities, 2020 DI got cut short, right when some of the Millis upperclassmen were experiencing familiar success.

“The seniors on the engineering team got the DaVinci Award, competing in Medfield for the regional tournament in March. They came in first,” says Jones, “and a couple kids (Colby Jones and Ella Borst) on the team got scholarships from the DI program.” The DaVinci award goes to the team with outstanding creativity and risk in the team's solution; every element had brilliant engineering design, excellent re-use of materials and beautiful visual appeal.

There were two senior DI teams this year, one the engineering team, including Colby Jones (Worcester Polytechnic Institute), Ella Borst (Stonehill College), Mia Coutts, (Belmont University), Will Bouret (Dynamy), and Jess Catalano (Salem State University); and the other the improvisation team, including Abby Messias (Salve Regina University), Mallory Doyle (College of the Holy Cross), Casey Doherty (UMass Amherst), and Mia Coutts (Belmont University).

For their winning Engineering challenge “In the Cards,”the engineering team needed to design and build a bridge that was assembled during the presentation. Weights needed to be moved across the bridge to test its strength. The story needed to be about an unexpected connection and its outcome.  A set-piece needed to be designed and created that transitioned between settings. 

The team created a story about social class discrimination as portrayed through the unexpected connection between an arrogant bird and a humble giant of the swamp, the alligator. A technically automated and artistically-designed Mother Nature caused a series of storms, sending the bird to a lower class where she meets the full-size, human-operated alligator, constructed out of recycled material, with an automated mouth. The set-piece transitioned from the sky to a swamp by a trigger device. The effort took home a regional first prize and a ticket to the state-level competition.

For their regional-level second-place winning Improvisational Challenge, Millis senior DI team had to receive a topic and produce a skit on the spot. For this year's challenge, “To The Rescue,” the team had to research superpowers and how they are portrayed in media. Their presentation was about a villain with invisibility and a super hero who could detect traffic jams with porcupines driving cars. The skit was enhanced with sound effects using bottled rice and a musical beat with plastic cups.

Freya Messia, Coach of the Millis senior Improv DI team, says, “Their laughter is a total joy. The goal of this team was to have fun and make memories, and that they did! The Improv team placed second at the Regional tournament. 

Unfortunately, for the Engineering team, the state-level tournament, which was to be held at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, was cancelled, along with, of course, any potential global tournament. DI has, however, planned a virtual global competition in which the Millis senior team will participate, along with two members of the Nashoba DI team, Charlotte and Else Snoonian.  

“It’s basically virtual, so you have to commit a video representation of your performance. The deadline is in June,” says Jones.

Members of the Millis senior DI Engineering Challenge team included,

Jones can’t say enough about the empowerment DI provides, and her team.

“I am so proud of each one of these kids for their effort and creative and technical solution year after year.I have seen what this program can do for kids. It empowers them to take risks and learn from failure. It allows kids to step out of their comfort zone and build life-long skills of self-confidence, creative and critical thinking, team building, problem-solving, risk-taking, project management, and how to work hard for a goal.  The program bonds the team and they will all have life long memories and friends.”

Members of this year’s senior team also describe a bond and learning experience.

Millis’ Senior Engineering Challenge DI team won first place this year at the regional competition, earning the DI DaVinci Award for outstanding creativity and risk in their solution. They would have headed to the state competition.

“My team has always been like my brothers and sisters.  Four of us have been on this team from kindergarten,” says Colby Jones, who says members remained friends despite attending separate schools. “There is no other activity that has given us this consistent time together to form these relationships.  This time has also created the foundation for my skills in communication, collaboration, leadership, and interpersonal relationship building.”

Mia Coutts adds, “I've grown a lot through DI. It's taught me that every idea is worth exploring, and teamwork is an incredibly valuable asset. But most of all, DI has shown me how to have fun and keep an open mind when given a task or when facing a challenge.  Additionally, DI has given me some amazing friends and memories."

Ella Borst and Abby Messias chimed in on how thankful they were for the friendship, confidence and lessons DI has provided them.