THE ROBBINSVILLE SUN — APRIL 3-9, 2013
Improv champs headed for global finals
By JOANNE DEGNAN
A zany five-minute improv skitparodying child beauty pageants,complete with little divas, pushymothers, and a commercial forHoney Boo-Boo’s “go-go juice,”launched six Pond Road MiddleSchool girls to a first-place finishMarch 23 in the NJ DestinationImagination State Finals.Eighth-graders Abigail Vale-rio, Melissa DeShaw, BonvieFosam, Megan Marsala, RachnaSridhar and Kaeleigh Sturgeon,aka the Hex Girls, now take theircreative talents on the road nextmonth to Knoxville, Tennesseefor DI’s Global Finals, an interna-tional creative problem-solvingcompetition where thousands of teams from all over the world willgather to solve various challengesusing technical, theatrical, struc-tural, improvisational or scientif-ic skills.The Robbinsville School Dis-trict had a total of 10 teams com-peting in different age categoriesin the DI State Finals, a 12-hourmarathon of challenges in which128 New Jersey teams competedin a battle of wits on the district’shome turf inside RobbinsvilleHigh School. In addition to theHex Girls’ first-place finish, twoother Robbinsville teams earnedsecond-place and third-place tro-phies, and RHS junior AndinFosam also won a $1,000 collegescholarship prize for a video shecreated about how DI problem-solving skills have helped her incheerleading.Only teams that win first placeare invited to advance to the glob-al tournament, so when the mas-ter of ceremonies announced theRobbinsville Hex Girls had fin-ished first in the state in their agecategory screams of joy eruptedfrom the corner of the RHS gym-nasiums where the six studentsand their team manager, parentMary Valerio, were camped out.They began jumping up anddown for joy and then ran to theawards table to receive their indi-vidual medals and team trophy.“We’re going to globals!”screamed Rachna Sridhar to herteammates as tears of joystreamed down her face.The judges, known in DI parl-ance as appraisers, also gave theHex Girls a special RenaissanceAward, commending them for dis-playing exceptional skills in “asensational performance from be-ginning to end.”Pond Road teacher AnneDiGiuseppe, who has run the DIprogram in Robbinsville for 15years, said the DI challenges areall about teamwork.“The kids have to be able tothink on their feet and work to-gether,” DiGiuseppe said.For example, while the HexGirls had practiced an improvisa-tional skit parodying the world of children’s beauty pageants (popu-larized by the TV show “HereComes Honey Boo-Boo”), andknew they would only have whiteT-shirts and markers for props, itwasn’t until they were standingin front of the judges that theyfound what additional “improvi-sational elements” had to be inte-grated into their performance.And they had only five minutes tocome up with a plan.One last-minute “Changes inRealiTee,” as the challenge wascalled, was to incorporate a com-mercial into their improvisation,so the girls quickly decided theywould hawk “go-go juice” thehigh-energy concoction of RedBull and Mountain Dew that isHoney Boo-Boo’s beverage of choice on the TV series to getramped up for beauty pageants.Told at the last-minute thattheir improvisation must addressa randomly selected problem of “no skis” they decided their beau-ty pageant would have a snowsuitcompetition, instead of a swim-suit competition, and that one of the contestants would forget tobring her skis, dooming her to de-feat.The girls quickly determinedon the fly who would play theroles of contestants, who wouldbe the pushy mothers, who wouldbe the judges and who would bethe pageant master of cere-monies, as well as who would dowhat in the “go-go juice” commer-cial. The result was hilarious,with one appraiser writing in herevaluation that she laughed sohard she cried.Other Robbinsville winners atthe state DI tournament includeda three-member high schoolteam, coached by Angie LaCase,called Team Exes. Ninth-graderSarah Williams and 10th-gradersJacob McGlew and Taylor LaCasewon a second place in their agegroup for their team’s “In Dis-guise” challenge featuring amime skit.A team of Pond Road fifth-graders, coached by Susan Wein-traub and Diana Brandani,known as the Robbinsville War-riors (Enzo Brandani, MichaelLim, Danny Marincas, TimothyRiley, Michael Weintraub, andBrandon Yoo) came in third placefor their efforts in their age groupin the “In the Zone” challenge.Four other Robbinsville teamsthat finished in the Top 10 in theirrespective age groups.Imagination XXL, coached byKatina Pearl-Blando, took sixthplace in the “In the Zone” chal-lenge. Team members includeJonathan Blando, grade 4 PRMS;Griffin David, grade 3 SharonSchool; Ashrith Pagedemarry,grade 4 PRMS; Ethan Macedo,grade 3 Sharon School; DhruvPeechara, grade 5 PRMS; andSushank Soma, grade 5 PRMS.Rainbow Avengers, coached byKlaus Hofenbitzer, tied for ninthplace in the “In Disguise” chal-lenge. The team members are allseventh-graders at PRMS and in-clude: Steven David, ConnorHofenbitzer, Emily Marsch, Revi-ka Singh, Mrinali Taskar andCaedan Wallace.The Banana Brains, coachedby Tom McEntee, took sixth placein the “Changes in RealiTee”challenge. The team, all sixth-graders at PRMS, includesGillian Carr, Jordyn David, MaxFarber-McEntee, Maddie John-son, Morgan Serra and Ethan Sil-berberg.Triple Threat, coached byPeggy Fallon, took fifth place forthe “Changes in RealiTees” chal-lenge. The team includes RHS juniors Kelsey Anderson, AndinFosam and Shika Lakshman.
JOANNE DEGNAN/The Sun
Above, the members of thechampion Hex Girl team boundfor the Destination ImaginationGlobal Finals next month arefrom left: Abigail Valerio, MelissaDeShaw, Bonvie Fosam, MeganMarsala, Rachna Sridhar andKaeleigh Sturgeon. To the right,RHS students Sarah Williams,Jacob McGlew and Taylor La-Case, aka Team Exes, won sec-ond place in the high school agegroup in the “In Disguise” chal-lenge category.