Destination Imagination (DI) When It Comes To Alton Central School (ACS) & New Hampshire (NH-DI).

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

Anura Guruge

Related post:
>> Conflicts of Interests Bothers Me
>>Mar. 28, 2012.

Let me start off with two opening statements to make sure that everybody appreciates where I am coming from.

1. Everything I am going to say here, I have said before, to the pertinent ACS staff, NH-DI officials, the DI mother organization and even to Mrs. Michelle Obama! So, as far as I am concerned, this is a well trodden path for me.

2. I used to be huge, huge, huge proponent, believer and flag-bearer for DI and I think, deep down, I still believe that DI is a good thing. All four of my kids, going back to c. 1996, have done DI. Matthew did DI for at least 4 years and made it to Globals twice (in a 3 year period). Matthew, now a rampant over-achiever (who puts me to shame), can often be heard singing the praises of DI and readily claiming that DI helped him tremendously in making him what he is today: ultra-confident, creative and a go-getter. I have been to well over 20 DI meets. I was an assistant coach at ACS 2010 – 2011. Deanna & I were both DI coaches 2011 – 2012. I was a DI appraiser in 2012.

So that is the background. These days I have issues with both DI at ACS and DI-NH. They are different issues and I will address them separately. I really don’t want to offend or upset anybody, unduly, and as such I am going to be as gentle and innocuous as possible and resort to as many euphemisms as I can — though I do want to make sure that there is no confusion as to what I am trying to say.

Click to ENLARGE.

Click to ENLARGE.

DI at Alton Central School (ACS)

The above, sent out Thursday night (10/10/2013), by ACS Principal Sydney Leggett, is the 3rd ACS Newsletter in a row, that had this Destination Imagination plea. The first two times I decided that I will keep my big mouth shut. When I saw it again on Thursday night, the Rubicon was crossed.

I have two issues here:

1/ It is getting LATE to start a DI team. Even if they get coaches signing up this coming week it will be the 4th week in October before they can have their first meeting. To me that is TOO LATE and unfair to the kids. NH schools with a proper DI cultures, like Hooksett, Bow, Gorham, where they have DI committees that meet year round, would have started their meetings by (latest) the third week of September. The number of meetings matter. So as far as I am concerned if you haven’t formed a team by the third week in October, call it a day for the year and move on. While winning isn’t everything, and competing alone is rewarding, I am a staunch believer that all kids should only ever compete on a LEVEL PLAYING FIELD. If not, it is not fair on the kids. So if our ACS kids start a month behind other kids that will always show when it comes to the meets. That distresses me. It is NOT their fault that they missed a month of meetings. It is the fault of the the ADULTS at ACS. I do NOT want to see ACS kids at a disadvantage because the ADULTS let them down. Have I made myself clear.

2/ Mrs. Leggett and I have had various ‘discussions’ on this 2011 – 2012. What I never did, and maybe I should have done, was take one of my old gloves (i.e. gauntlet) to school with me and throw it down at her feet and make it very official that I am challenging her to make this happen. What do I want her to do: ‘get ACS TEACHERS, especially all the science teachers, to be DI coaches’. Plain and simple. Mrs. Leggett should not be trying to find parents to be DI coaches. Yes, parents should be assistant coaches as I was in 2010 – 2011 — helping an ACS teacher. Why am I so adamant on this. Because this pertains to the culture of ACS. In terms of ALL of the non-sporting after school activities, coaching DI, indubitably, is the MOST time-consuming (if you are going to do it right). Zumba-whatever, may involve more physical effort for an hour, but in terms of hours a week, plus the two or three weekends, DI coaching takes up a lot of your time. I know. But, it is worthwhile. That MORE ACS teachers won’t do it is an indictment on ACS and the principal. I have challenged her on this before, without throwing down the symbolic gauntlet, but now I challenge her again: ‘Mrs. Leggett, get your teachers to COACH DI. Every ACS DI team should be led by a teacher. Recruit parents as assistant coaches’.


1/ The appraiser conflicts of interests that I spelled out in this post, and was responded to by NH-DI, still bother me. But, that is my opinion and nobody will convince me that it is the right thing. So, as ever, I am doing the right thing as far as I am concerned, which is all that I can do: I am staying away from DI-NH.

2/ Something else that bothered me greatly with NH-DI, probably as much of the ‘conflicts’, was the ‘image’ portrayed by the ‘adult’ NH-DI officials. ACS parents that attended the various DI meets with me will know that I fumed, muttered and ranted about: ‘This is not right. This upsets me …’ Let me say this as delicately as possible. I don’t want to take kids (and by kids, I refer to all kids in my charge and not just my own) to a so called ‘leadership event’ where more than 50% of the ‘adult’ officials do not meet the ‘BMI 25‘ criteria. I do not want my kids to listen to a mid-40s guy, who looks like he is 7 months pregnant, with twins, prancing around, going ‘Look at me. I am the face of DI. You too can be like me. This is what you are striving for …’. I want folks that look like Mittens Romney, Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, Michele Bachmann, John Boehner, the President, Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, Dr. Mrs. Jill Biden, John Kerry etc. etc. standing up and serving as the role models for my kids. I don’t want kids to think that DI takes the place of sports and exercise — and given the time commitment that DI imposes, this can be an issue. I don’t want kids to think that you can’t be nerdy (a Geek) and a jock (Cool) at the same time. I told DI, in 2011, both NH and ‘mothership’, that I would like to see at least ONE DI challenge that was all about physical fitness or nutrition. I haven’t looked at this year’s challenges. But, until I see that NH-DI, takes this to heart, I am not going to take a team to a NH-DI meet. Again, this is my take. I don’t ask anybody to do anything I would not do. I write this after my 6 days a week, huff, puff and wheeze trudge up Prospect Mountain, wearing 5 pounds of wrist weights — and I won’t mention names, but I this morning, I was 10 minutes faster than a youngster young enough to be my grand-daughter.

Enough said.

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