From left to right, Ron Kramer, Dina Hagigeovges, Ari Goldstein, Gabrielle Galat, Dimitri Roumeliotis and Bridget Aumais with their Spinning Narator Chair, which they built for their "Partying Pirates" skit at Wood Hill Middle School's Destination ImagiNation competition. They are the first Andover team ever to make it to the national Destination ImagiNation competition.

Tim Jean
Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Ari Goldstein and Ron Kramer will never forget getting lost in the snow behind their school this past winter.

Luckily for the two Wood Hill Middle School eighth-graders, Ari was wearing his lucky jacket. "And we found the school again," he laughed.

Both members of the school's champion Destination ImagiNation team say their luck is seemingly endless these days. And with a little more where that came from, Ari and Ron | with teammates Bridget Aumais, Dmitri Roumeliotis, Dina Hagigeorges and Gabrielle Galat and coaches Richard Aumais and Chris Cathy Georges | are bound for the international Destination ImagiNation world competition in Tennessee next month.

The gray and blue winter jacket, which no longer fits Ari, will accompany them | though most of the group members admit having a good luck charm is somewhat ironic.

"Our skit is about overcoming superstitions," Bridget said. "But some of us have gotten more superstitious."

"Our challenge was to create an eight-minute skit about overcoming an obstacle," Ari said.

The group's main character, named Jimmy, is a young man plagued by superstitions. He must learn to overcome them, however, to dig up a pirate's treasure | and help his family.

Bridget, Dmitri, Dina and Gabrielle have been working on D.I. teams together since they were fourth-graders at High Plain Elementary School. Ari and Ron are newer to the team | having just signed on this past year.

All six students said their involvement on the team has been quite a commitment.

"Right before competition, it's three hours every day after school," Bridget said. And that's just during the week.

"We have Super Saturdays and Sundays now, where you practice for 12 hours," Ron said.

Before they head south next month, the team will need to raise around $30,000 | which will cover expenses such as airfare, accommodations and the shipping of their props.

Fundraisers such as bake sales and spaghetti suppers are being planned, Georges said. While several corporate sponsors are already helping the team, more help is still needed.

"You've probably already seen us, in front of Dunkin' Donuts raising money," smiled Dina.

Also a challenge will be shipping the team's main prop, a mechanical chair fashioned out of old bicycle parts and decorated to resemble the trunk of an ancient tree.

"The chair doesn't use any electricity," Gabrielle said.

Another local D.I. team, led by Andover mom Maria Ippolito, was comprised of fifth-graders from three different local schools | and five different towns.

"It's unique, since they're not from one school," Ippolito said. But the Pike School, where Ippolito's daughter, Laura, attends, did not offer DestiNation Imagination.

Now, the group includes Andover School of Montessori students Antonia Zea of Lynnfield, Emily Coffin of Methuen and Tia Bakhski of Woburn; E. Edith Little School student Asidis Olafdottir of North Reading; and Pike School student Laura Ippolito.

"We did a story about a girl who goes to the Bermuda Triangle and gets sunken by a sea monster," Laura said. Of 160 teams to participate in the state tournament, theirs was the only team made of students from different schools. They placed third in their category, "Roundabout Courage."

"It's so much fun," Laura said. "It teaches you to think outside the box."

Want to contribute?

Those wishing to help out the Wood Hill team with donations may make our checks to: Andover Destination Imagination, and send them to Northmark Bank, attention David Coco, P.O. Box 825, 89 Turnpike St., North Andover, MA 01845.

The world DestiNation Imagination competition is set for May 22-27 at University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn.

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