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Hayden seeks volunteers for tourney

— The population of Hayden could significantly increase in March.

A few hundred children will fill the halls and classrooms of the elementary and middle schools for a regional competition that stretches their creativity and problem-solving skills.

After several years in Grand Junction, the Destination Imagination tournament is moving to Hayden March 16.



Hayden Valley Elementary Principal Mike Luppes said he expects almost 800 people to attend the competition that will field elementary, middle and high school students.

That estimate includes parents, coaches and volunteers.



About 50 teams of seven students from 15 to 20 schools compete in the regional competition every year.

When support for the Grand Junction location waned, Luppes said, Hayden schools offered to host the tournament.

Their offer, however, comes with strings attached.

Now the schools need to recruit about 100 volunteers to make the tournament happen.

Volunteers will fill several roles as judges, timekeepers and score runners. They would also tally team scores and sit at informational booths.

People hesitant about judging a competition they know little about will be offered training from 7 to 10 a.m. before the tournament begins.

The first- and second-place finishers from the elementary, middle and high school divisions will go to the state tournament in Denver at the end of April. Winners from the state tournament will go to the international tournament at the University of Tennessee in May.

A primary exhibition featuring first- and second-graders will also be held.

Four teams from the elementary school and one team from the middle school in Hayden began preparing for the tournament in early November.

Teams nationwide and internationally receive five problems at the beginning of each season but choose only one to research and answer in their team challenge competition.

Each team acts out their solution individually before a single judge or a panel of judges.

Thirty minutes before the judging begins, the team receives one wild-card element they must include in their presentation.

One of the problems this year requires students to research a slate of artists.

During the competition, the team could likely be asked to include two of those artists in a skit while referring to the wild-card element as many times as possible.

Judges look at teamwork, creativity and problem-solving when determining a team’s score.

Teams will also compete in an instant challenge, which gives students only a few minutes to prepare their response to a problem they have never before seen.

A prior instant challenge problem asked students to construct the tallest freestanding object possible with only a few items, such as paper clips and a piece of paper.

People who watch the teams compete may not fully understand why and what they are doing, said Hayden elementary and middle school Destination Imagination coordinator Susan Koehler, but they will enjoy watching the students use their creativity and problem-solving skills.

Involvement in the program leads to marked improvement among its participants, Koehler said.

“The growth is so huge,” she said. “I’ve seen so many kids just fly.”


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