Elementary school students to travel for tournament

Over 1,100 teams to compete at worldwide tournament

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Elementary school students to travel for tournament

Team manager and second grade teacher Sonia Bringhurst looks on as team members of Random Guess work together.

Team manager and second grade teacher Sonia Bringhurst looks on as team members of Random Guess work together.


Team manager and second grade teacher Sonia Bringhurst looks on as team members of Random Guess work together.



Team manager and second grade teacher Sonia Bringhurst looks on as team members of Random Guess work together.

JAYCE CARRAL, Evergreen reporter

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A team of students from Jefferson Elementary will compete from May 22 to May 25 in the Destination Imagination Global Finals in Kansas City, Missouri. 

The team, Random Guess, consists of six fifth-graders and one third-grader: Kate Armstrong, Silas Brown, Tegan Gotch, Sidney Johnson, Delaney Matthews, Levi Ritter and Raya Ritter. The team specializes in improvisational acting.

Gotch said there will be over 1,100 teams from around the world competing at Globals. Competing teams include students from international elementary schools, middle schools and high schools.

Prospective members of Random Guess had to write individual letters to the team managers about why they wanted to do improvisational acting, Johnson said.

Raya Ritter said she and her brother, Levi Ritter, knew they wanted to be in the same team.

“We were both going to do medical mystery, but then we decided improv looked better,” she said.

Matthews said she is excited to compete against teams from different countries like Mexico and China. She said she is also excited to share her team’s creativity with other teams.

Levi Ritter and Tegan Gotch said the stress of competing motivates them to do their best.

Random Guess is monitored by three team managers: Jaclyn Gotch, Sonia Bringhurst and Jill Patera.

Jaclyn Gotch, team manager and mother of Tegan Gotch, said Destination Imagination is an international educational nonprofit which encourages students to problem solve as a team.

Gotch said Jefferson Elementary originally had five teams, all of which competed in the Regional Tournament on March 2. Two teams moved forward to compete in the state tournament on March 30. Random Guess is the only team that will compete in the Global Finals.

“Global Finals is a four-day tournament. [Random Guess] will perform on two different days,” Gotch said. “On the other two days… they can watch students from other teams and categories perform and even get ideas from.”

Teams will compete in two different challenges during Destination Imagination tournaments. The first is the team challenge which centers around the team’s specialty, Gotch said.

“This group is our improv group, so they will be given the details of what their skit has to include,” Gotch said. “They will have two minutes to prepare and five minutes to perform.”

She said Random Guess was given a list of 20 figureheads who appear on coins and the members had to choose six to use as characters, which will be incorporated into their skit. The team had to research their chosen figureheads and be able to show the information they gathered to the appraisers and audience as part of their performance.

Johnson said the research the team does benefit them in competition.

“You have to bring [the figureheads’] coins up a lot,” she said. “Wherever we are performing, we always make excuses to bring up their coins as much as possible. It gets us extra points, we think.”

Armstrong, Tegan Gotch, Johnson, Matthews, Levi Ritter and Raya Ritter chose their figureheads to be Empress Catherine II, Mahatma Gandhi, Queen Elizabeth II, Victor Hugo, Leonardo da Vinci and Yi Sun-sin, respectively.

Brown said he does not have a designated character but instead acts as a changing supporting character depending on the storyline of the performance.

During the team’s weekly practices, they participated in a different team challenge. Johnson said each team challenge included the tale, a flip and two main figureheads. 

Brown said the tale is the plotline the team has to base their performance on.

“The flip is something that happens — the twist [in the plot] — like the monkeys raided the town or something,” he said.

Matthews said during the performance, the tale is chosen at random from a basket filled with slips of paper with different tales.

Johnson said the appraisers will flip a coin before the performance to decide if the team will begin performing a tragedy or a comedy. She said the theme of the performance also changes when the flip occurs.

Raya Ritter said each performance begins verbally, but when the flip occurs, the performance becomes nonverbal.

Gotch said the second part is the team’s instant challenge usually includes an engineering challenge where the team will have to demonstrate their ability to work together.

Gotch said teams are not aware of what the challenge will be until they enter the room. The challenge must be completed within five minutes.

“No one gets to watch the instant challenges. I’m not even allowed in the room with the team,” Gotch said. “We have to wait until the end of Globals for [the students] to be able to share that. It’s a big mystery all season.”

Sonia Bringhurst, team manager and 2nd-grade teacher at Jefferson Elementary, said Random Guess has been practicing for two hours every Thursday since the beginning of the school year.

“They bring a great deal of perseverance and this team is very good at thinking on their feet,” she said. “In this kind of program you need to have a background in STEM attributes and arts – and be able to work together. When they perform they do it together in a collaborative manner.”

Bringhurst said despite the ages of the team members, they all have a voice within the team when working on the challenges.

Each team invited to go to Globals is responsible to pay for their own travel expenses and the registration fee, Gotch said.

“We were very fortunate to have the Pullman School District support our team and pay the registration fee, so now we are using the GoFundMe platform to raise money for all the travel costs of the team,” she said. “We have two more weeks to see what we are able to raise.”

Gotch said the Kiwanis Club of Pullman and the Pullman Education Foundation each donated $1,000 to the team. She said Random Guess hosted an edible art fundraiser which raised almost $400.

“At this point, we are definitely going, but that financial burden then falls to the families,” she said. “We are trying to make it as less burdensome as possible — make it as easy as possible for the families to afford this.”

The members of Random Guess said they are looking forward to the opportunity to compete in Globals. Johnson said after participating in Destination Imagination for three years, going to Globals will be an incredible experience for her.

“I really think [Destination Imagination] has opened my mind to new opportunities and chances because it expands the imagination,” she said. “There’s no limits or anything and you can just explore.”