SALISBURY – A team of local high school students is seeking the community’s support in an effort to compete in an international skills competition next month.
Five students from the Salisbury All- Inclusive Homeschool Co-op have qualified for the Destination Imagination Global Finals in Kansas City next month. As the May 22-25 competition approaches, they’re asking for support from local residents and businesses as they work to raise enough money to make the trip. This is the first year the team has done well enough at the regional and then state competition to qualify for the global event.
“We’re excited to be a part of it,” said Maria Stewart, whose son is on the team.
The team, known as the “Pineapple Mafia,” is made up of Holden Stewart, Emmanuel Reed, Alaya McCarthy, Neva Facer and Jasmine Kissel. Maria Stewart said students from the homeschool group started competing in Destination Imagination five years ago. The program teaches problem solving skills as well as science, technology, engineering, art and math principles. Each year, Destination Imagination provides seven challenges kids can choose to compete in. After choosing to compete in the fine art challenge this year, members of the Pineapple Mafia were tasked with building a life-sized game board and putting on an eight-minute play. At each Destination Imagination competition, they’re also given an instant challenge that involves completing a task through teamwork.
Stewart said the competition process has helped the teenagers hone their educational abilities but has also taught them life skills.
“Beyond building social-emotional skills it gives them a year-long challenge they have to work on together,” she said. “There’s no adult support. They had to come up with all the ideas and the budget for the project and then build it. These things will be life skills the kids are going to need.”
Stewart said she was particularly proud to see the team qualify for the global competition because they never turned anyone away.
“There are other teams that have try-outs,” she said, adding that this team welcomed anyone who wanted to participate.
The team has launched a GoFundMe page (www.gofundme.com/send-pineapple-mafia-to-globals) and also has a fundraiser scheduled. On May 11 at St. Peters Episcopal Church in Salisbury, the team is hosting a family game night that will also feature a silent auction. Stewart said that as homeschooled students, the teens were relying on local support to raise the necessary funds.
“As homeschoolers we don’t have the support of the school system,” she said. “We have to do all that fundraising on our own.”