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Destination ImagiNation team bound for global competition again

JAM2K members include Kelli Elmer, Maricia Pacheco, Jenna Gaalswyk, Katie Aaron and Ali Grebner. Their Destination ImagiNation team heads to Global competition later this month.

Spend enough time with someone, and you're bound to know what makes him or her tick. You know a personality, you know where strengths lie. And when it comes to being part of a team, that's usually a pretty good asset.

Take the eighth grade Destination Imagination team, JAM2K - five young ladies who have been a team for several years already. They know each other well. They know what each person is good at. They know how to feed off one another and they know they're funny.

Well, they're pretty sure they're funny. They're funny to each other. And that's probably all that matters.

As part of Destination Imagination, this team of five - Ali Grebner, Marcia Pacheo, Jeanna Gallswyk, Kelli Emmer and Katie Aaron - has to do skits. They have a limited amount of time to develop these skits, too. Like, seven minutes. So it's a good thing they've been together as a long as they have, because their familiarity with each other has landed them yet another trip to the DI Global Competition next month in Tennessee.

Yet another? Yep. This will be the third trip to Globals for four of the five; and a second trip for the fifth.

All former Farmington Elementary School students, Aaron, Gaalswky, and Elmer started in the Destination Imagination program when they were in second grade. Grebner joined the team in third grade, and Pacheco came along in fourth grade. Now, they're in eighth grade - all of them but Pacheco are Boeckman Middle School students; Pacheco attends Dodge Middle School - and they're still going strong.

"It's like a part of my life," Aaron said. "I don't know. It's in my blood or something."

The girls like the fact not many people actually understand what Destination Imagination is all about. It's a little secret they can try to explain, but most of the time people just get confused.

In a nutshell, DI is a challenge in which teams are required to learn facts - lots of random facts on random subjects that all relate to a theme of some sort. At competitions, they get a topic to act out. This year's topic was "endangered things," meaning they had to research everything from glaciers and ecosystems to the imminent demise of the land-line telephone.

Then, they have seven minutes to work out a skit, that will share as much of their knowledge as possible. They used to have props, but that's not included in the middle school program. Now, they can only use human scenery and invisible props.

"We kind of know what each other is good at," Grebner said, "so we always kind of know what to do."

The team took second place at the Minnesota competition a couple of weeks back, which qualified them for the Globals. Now, they're gearing up to head to Tennessee, leaving May 25. In the past, their team has placed in the 20s. About 70 teams compete in the Global competition.

And besides, there are DI challenges for students all the way through high school and college. There are even challenges for adult teams. That might be a little far off, but for sure, the girls plan to stick it out through the next few years. They have fun doing it, and that's really all that counts.

"We mesh well together, so it's fun," Aaron said. "And I just love how funny we are."

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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