NASHVILLE — Five Midlothian elementary students took to the world stage and owned it — all the way to a third-place finish.
Taking the world by storm at the international competition of the Destination Imagination (DI) Global Finals, Miller Elementary’s DI-Nomyte DINOS third graders took third place.
“It has been such an amazing experience. When they called our name, we were so surprised,” recalled Kimberly Moss, Destination Imagination Coordinator, and Co-Team Manager. “Making it to Global Finals as a rookie team of third graders is hard enough. We never thought we’d be ranked among the top three teams in the world.”
“We are just honored to represent our school district and make our community proud,” she added. “It’s like the Olympics of creativity where there are 17 different countries and 45 of the 50 states competing, so it’s obviously big.”
According to recent press release from the team, the competition is one the world’s largest celebrations of student creativity. More than 1,470 of the top-scoring DI teams from around the world gathered in Knoxville, Tennessee to showcase their innovative Team Challenge solutions, May 24-27.
“The first team we ran into was from China, and they spoke absolutely no English,” Moss recollected. “So we were trying to communicate with them, and the kids were still in shock that people from all over the world were there."
“But we ended up kind of translating and found out they were in the same competition as us,” she laughed.
For months, the team that consisted of Caden Haught, Sophie Tollefsbol, Ada Ballard, Kaleigh Chase, and Silas Moss worked hard on their Service Learning project, “Ready, Willing, and Fable.”
“They started off winning first place at regionals, then they made it to state against nine other Texas teams and won fifth. So this whole time the kids wanted to beat the teams that beat them in state," she recalled their motivation.
In October, the team created an original solution, which included a community coin drive that raised nearly $2,000 to buy water filters for families in rural Bolivia.
In addition to the fundraiser, the DI-Nomyte DINOS also had to write and present a fable that explained and represented what they did during their fundraiser.
In doing so, the kids used skills such as scriptwriting, prop making, costume design, backdrop creation, science, music, and drama to advance to the finals.
“So the kids were hoping to be in the top ten,” Moss expressed. “They started on Wednesday and performed all through Saturday, and it was all day. So the entire week they saw other teams perform and our poor team was the last ones to perform.”
“So I told the kids, ‘You know, let’s go give our best performance - win their hearts, show them your amazing project and then we’ll see what happens.’ And the kids were pretty confident about it,” she chuckled.
Performing their project through the "mouths of animals," Moss goes on to describe the skit.
“In the fable, a macaw gets lost while flying through Bolivia. She drinks unclean water that is full of bacteria and quickly falls ill,” Moss explained the scene. “Ultimately, she’s discovered by the ‘post-elot,’ an ocelot who is in charge of delivering packages to all the rainforest animals, and vows to clean up the water using the help of his friends in the rainforest.”
“Using their unique talents and skills, the animals work together to create a water filter that will clean the water for the macaw,” she added.
Moss shares that the students reveal the moral of the story, which is “an act of kindness, no matter how small, is never wasted.”
“In the end, the macaw makes it to the rainforest and inspires the team of animals to join forces to save more animals by creating additional water filters,” Moss finished.
Out of 70 teams competing from all regions of the world, the DI-Nomyte DINOS’ creative solution earned them a spot in the top three, beating their preconceived goal of making it into the top ten.
“When they called our school, everyone was screaming their heads off and smiling,” exclaimed Silas Moss, a teammate of the DI-Nomyte DINOS.
“We worked hard and put in so much effort. Because of that, we got third place and became champions,” expressed teammate, Ada Ballard. “It was glorious!”
With the overwhelming support of Midlothian ISD, Moss and Co-Team Manager, Casey Nelson, are grateful for the community’s backing and encouragement of this endeavor.
“From the school-wide ‘clap out’ at Miller Elementary to the ‘Good Luck’ signs, and goodie bags, this team has been well-supported by the community of Midlothian,” Moss recognized.
“The DI-nomyte DINOS learned to have compassion for others, making that the biggest win. And making a difference in the world is possible, even for young students such as themselves,” she included.
Through nine months of overcoming various levels of the competition and taking home third place, the team is already looking forward to next year.
“They want to be on the same team next year,” Moss said. “I keep telling them, ‘You need a summer to relax. You guys did an entire school year of this.’ But they are all too excited about it and are wanting to work on their challenge for next year.”
“They want to continue to do the Service Project because it helps people. I mean, they’re the DI-Nomyte DINOS – dynamite comes in small packages, and they’re Dynamic, Innovative, Nice, Outstanding, Superstars,” she laughed. “Seeing them thrive in this competition, it’s just been an awesome thing to watch, and we’re so proud of them.”
Chelsea Groomer, @ChelseaGroomer