Tag Archives: Destination Imagination

“Organized Chaos”, THE Teen Rock Band With Potential Galore, Now Has A Website & YouTube Video.

by Anura Guruge

On vocals and lead guitar, above, is our Alton local, Luciano (‘Luc’) Monzione, who I have known since he was about 10. From the very first day I met him, when he joined a  “Destination Imagination” (DI) team I was coaching, I could immediately tell that Luc was going to go far. And he is living up to my high expectations — though these are but the first steps. What is amazing is that his talents are not restricted to music. One of the smartest of people I have ever met — with intelligence way ‘up there’. So, I am very happy and proud to see Luc and his friends on the road towards what we all hope is untrammelled success. Hence, why I am alway promoting Luc (independent of my friendship with his parents}.

So …

Click either image to access the
Organized Chaos” Website.

Related posts:
Category ‘Arts’.

by Anura Guruge

Kickstarting “Organized Chaos”, A Rock Band With Huge Potential — With My Friend “Luc” On Vocals/Guitar.

by Anura Guruge

Click to ENLARGE. Kickstarter page below.

Click to ENLARGE and read here … Kickstarter link below. Please visit.

Link to KICKSTARTER page — which includes video.

Please visit & pledge if you can.

You will be GLAD you did so.

I have seen them, i.e., “Organized Chaos“, heard them and followed them for the last 2-years. They are VERY, VERY good. I begged Luc to let me be their manager. Wisely (and Luc is one of the smartest folks you are ever likely to encounter) he declined. He knows that “Organized Chaos” is going to be much, much BIGGER than anything I would be able to manage!

These boys are going to go far. They could be VERY BIG. Huge.

I have known Luc since he was 10 or 11. He was in a “Destination Imagination” (DI) team I coached in 2011/2012. From the very first day I met him, I knew he was an exceptional talent. I have raved about him. His talent, intellect and ability is hard to miss. He has some very good genes, his father a famous lawyer — with clients like Muhammad Ali.

This is a great opportunity. Please spend some time reading their proposal. You will be glad that you did.

Mark my word. You could be witnessing the next BIG thing in modern music.

Related posts:
Category ‘Arts’.

by Anura Guruge

AMAZING Talent At The Prospect Mountain High School, Alton, N.H. May 5, 2017 Talent Show.

by Anura Guruge

Attribution WILL be enforced.

This was the second act of the talent show and it blew me away. I am a huge Johnny Cash fan and did NOT expect a high-school kid to come anywhere close.

Wow. What a voice.

This is Garrett. [I am intentionally NOT including the last names …] Don’t know him, BUT I am going try and rectify that.

I do know the backup guitarist WHICH was why I was recording this — as opposed to taking pictures, which is my preference.

The accomplished guitarist is my buddy, the 15-year old Luc — who I have known and watched since he was 10. He also happens to be the son of friends — though I met them through Luc. Luc was in one of my ‘Destination Imagination‘ teams way back. I knew then that Luc was going to go far.

Check out this other Luc video from last night.

Talent like this is so refreshing and inspiring.

I hope Garrett will do something with this gift. I know Luc will.

It was a great show. I was very happy. More to come. Thanks.

Related Posts:
Search on ‘Prospect’ for other related posts >>>>
++++ Check Category ‘Alton’ for other posts >>>>

by Anura Guruge

Alton Central STILL Looking For Parents To Coach ‘Destination Imagination’!

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

Anura Guruge

Related posts:
++++ Do a SEARCH on ‘Alton Central’ from Sidebar search trench for other related posts >>>>>

Click to ENLARGE.

Click to ENLARGE.

I already said my piece about this two weeks ago.

We are now going into the 2nd week of November. Soon it will be Thanksgiving.

It is TOO LATE to realistically start a DI team. It is not fair on the kids!

DI is a lot of work. Hours expended matters and counts.

When you go to the first regional meet it is NOT FAIR on the kids if they are competing against kids who have had a month or more of lead time.

I watch the kids’ eyes as they look at their peers from other schools competing. You can read their emotions. When they see performances vastly superior to their own, PARTLY because they spent much, much, much more time, you can see the awe and disappointment in their eyes. They would have liked to have done something like that too — but they never had the time.

That is why I am OPPOSED to having teams that start late. DI is for the kids. Don’t burden them with disadvantages even before they start.

Then there is my other pet peeve. Why can’t this principal order some of her teachers to be the DI coaches? I am a great believer that each DI team should be coached by a school teacher assisted by a parent.

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.

Alton Central School 8th Grade Student Council President, In Letter, Claims That Bullying Is Alive And Well At ACS.


Anura Guruge

Devanee our daughter was subject to considerable bullying at ACS.

In 2011 it got so bad that I requested a formal investigation per HB 1523.

I redacted a part that is not that relevant to this discussion to avoid folks getting distracted. Click to ENLARGE.

I redacted a part that is not that relevant to this discussion to avoid folks getting distracted. Click to ENLARGE.

It ended up with an ‘independent’ evaluator from Gilford mediating. Then a year later Devanee, accidentally or otherwise, got slapped in the face in the school bus coming home. That is when we decided to homeschool her.

Deanna and I both experienced bullying when young. We are determined that other kids should not go through this same experience.

Yesterday morning I got an e-mail, with an attached letter, from another ACS parent. It was about bullying and had been written by her daughter, 8th Grade Student Council President, to the ACS School Board.

I know the daughter, and for that matter the whole family. Both her brothers were on my 2011 – 2012 Destination Imagination (DI) team, and the mother (who sent me the e-mail) was my Assistant Coach. The author of the letter often attended our DI sessions. Since then I have got to know the whole family. These kids, by any measure, are exceptional. Yes, they did go to private school before coming to ACS. But that is neither here nor there. All I know is that I have great faith in these kids and their parents.

Since the letter has been sent to the School Board I am going to bide my time and in general bite my tongue (though I have made a call to a ‘anti-bullying’ campaigner to give him a ‘heads up’).

There is one KEY thing in this letter that bothers me, and it bothers me so much that I have to address it.

This young lady is NOT trying to cause trouble or get anybody into trouble. To the contrary. She does not want to name names.

She wants to try and SOLVE the problem through student awareness, participation and goodwill.

To me that sounds beyond wonderful. BRAVO.

So, what is she asking?

She would like the school to have Group Seminars and Discussions where the students can discuss bullying.

That is IT. Ok, I could, as ever, be wrong. But, this seems like a great idea to me.

And then comes the bit that has me confounded, and I am going to show an extract of the letter to avoid any misunderstanding:

Click to ENLARGE.

Click to ENLARGE.

Mr. Lander can WE see these studies that YOU quote?

This is what confuses me. I have done some reading on anti-bullying programs. Everything that I have read indicates that group initiatives, students working with their peers, is the best way to stamp out bullying.

This is from the Federal 'stop bullying.gov' website. Click to access.

This is from the Federal ‘stop bullying.gov’ website. Click to access.

Per Minnesota Public Radio schools in MN appear to encourage this type of assemblies. Click to access.

Per Minnesota Public Radio schools in MN appear to encourage this type of assemblies. Click to access.

So this was ANOTHER 8th grader. Click to access.

So this was ANOTHER 8th grader. Click to access.

Another ... just click.

Another … just click.

An anti-bullying organization has this to say. Click.

An anti-bullying organization has this to say. Click.

You can do your own Googling.

Here is the NH State page on bullying.

UNH Marine Program: Know The Coast Day — We Went. It Was Good. It Was Fun. It Was Educational Too.

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge

Click the picture to ENLARGE them to full size.

Deanna found this through the Homeschooling Alliance that we belong to. It was free and looked quite promising. Yes, I was amused that UNH was holding a ‘Know The Coast Day‘ in landlocked Durham, NH (when I know that UNH does have research facilities on the coast). That said, they did all of us proud. I like UNH Durham. There is always a nice vibe in Durham. We have been to numerous events and camps at UNH Durham, some to do with Destination Imagination (DI).

It was a gray day, though the rain held off and it was pleasantly warm. Parking is always an issue at Durham, but I managed (after I flashed my smile a few times).

It seemed to be well thought out, coordinated and laid out. Lots of volunteer, many retired folks like me. Some representatives from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Very helpful, in particular Mr. Rick Cecchetti. Gave me a ton of information pertinent to Devanee. Altogether a very nice. Very helpful.

The squid dissecting was a hit. I learnt a lot. Did you know that they now have a separation device attached to U.S. trawler nets to help whales escape IF they get entangled in the nets? I liked that.

I was impressed with this SeaPerch, DIY remotely operated vehicle (ROV). Appears I can get the parts for about $50. I can build kits, so putting it together shouldn’t be too hard. I can see an ROV in our future.

I was struck by the level of detail in this model.


They had two large tanks, this the smaller, by quite a bit, was for wave and tidal studies. Very neat.

New Hampshire Stories: Laconia Rotary Club and the ‘University of Whales’

by Anura Guruge

Getting inducted into Laconia Rotary (in Sept. 2001, I think), by the late Kinney O’Rouke, wearing my ‘Granite State Ambassador’ (GSA) shirt, the first thing that Kinney got me into.

University of Swansea

University of Swansea, across from Mumbles Beach with its amazing long (I think 2 mile) tidal ebb-and-flow. No we didn’t use the beach much. During term time it was usually too cold.

Laconia Rotary Park with the historic Belknap Mill in the background, where Laconia Rotary has their meetings (on the 3rd floor).

“New Hampshire Stories” sets out to chronicle noteworthy, but mostly amusing, events from my 3 decades in New Hampshire.
Check the CATEGORY ‘New Hampshire Stories’ or do a SEARCH using sidebar search box for ‘stories’ for other posts.

How I met the once bestriding Kinney O’Rouke in the parking lot of the Laconia CVS and how me got me involved in ‘Granite State Ambassadors‘ (GSA) and Laconia Rotary were described in this July 14, 2012, post. So I won’t revisit that again. If you want the background, please read that post.

Kinney who was President of Laconia Rotary at the time ‘fast tracked’ my induction. I had to fill in a questionnaire about my life and meet with a 3 person ‘Induction Committee’ who wanted to ensure that I had integrity (and took regular showers). Anyway, since Kinney wanted me (and that was mainly to boost his recruitment score) they agreed to have me, integrity be damned.

I was not the first non-white that had been inducted. Dr. Prabhkar K. Shetty, the renowned Ophthalmologist from Gilford, had been a member for a longtime. But, I was by far, the most exotic person they had inducted and that was what Kinney wanted. As Kinney emphasized from the start, we were going to have fun and that fun started with my induction ceremony.

Birthdays are a BIG deal at Laconia Rotary. Around the time of your birthday you are supposed to bring in an item that is then auctioned, at the weekly lunchtime meeting, to raise money for the Club. The goal is to sell your item for as much as you can. So some get very creative and I remember items selling for $300. So, as part of the induction they announce your birthday. Based on a comment I had made that I knew somebody that was born on that day, Kinney announced that my birthday was ‘April 1’ — thus trying to set the tone that I was a clown, if not a fool.

Right after the induction meeting, Kinney tells me: ‘You are ON for the next 2 weeks. You are doing the presentation. Just tell them about your life‘. Another brilliant Kinney move. Each weekly Rotary meeting is supposed to have a ‘meaningful’ (hopefully educational) 20 – 30 minute presentation. As with the Birthday Auction each member is supposed to find speakers to fill these slots — again some setting out to excel (and keeping their speaker secret until the meeting). Once when it was my turn, I got Philip McLaughlin who had just finished his term as the Attorney General of NH. (Yes, they were impressed. Philip, a Laconia native, wowed them.) So, by getting me to fill in 2 slots, right away, Kinney, as President, didn’t have to worry about whether those two meetings were going to have speakers — that always been a challenge. [If he didn’t have school, e.g., Summer, Matthew, who was 8-9, used to attend the meetings with me, kids being encouraged to attend. At one of the meetings the speaker did not show up. I bribed Matthew, who had just come back from ‘Global Finals’, to talk about Destination Imagination (DI). I can’t remember what the bribe was, but I know it was expensive. He must have been 9 at the time. He got up on the podium. His face just about cleared it. So, he is now facing 100 adults. He, hesitated for a minute, but then launched straight in. He got a standing ovation. For the next 2 weeks I would meet people in Laconia or Gilford who would say: ‘I heard about your son’s speech at Rotary‘.]

So, per Kinney, my brief was that in my 1st slot, I had to talk about my ‘early’ life and that the 2nd slot should be about my experiences in high-tech.

Ed Engler, Laconia Daily Sun

Ed Engler at our wedding, January 1, 2003 — looking very happy, as he should.

So, as instructed, I did my first presentation talking about my life in Ceylon, growing up in the U.K. and going to school there.

As per rote, the proceedings of all the Rotary meetings are documented and posted on the Web. In those days, given his professional credentials, our official chronicler of all matters Rotary was Ed Engler, the Editor/President of the Laconia Daily Sun. Ed is a great guy. Very nice, very obliging. But, as anybody who is familiar with the Laconia Daily Sun will know, Ed and his lovely crew don’t waste too much time about accuracy.

The meetings are on Thursday. The report of the proceedings get posted by Monday. So given that I was still new and curious, I checked what dear Ed had said about my presentation.

He had done a decent job covering my time in Ceylon, Buffalo, Paris and London, but then said: ‘he got his first degree from the University of WHALES’!

I am not exactly thin, but I am NOT that fat.

I called Ed up and asked him what that was all about. He says: ‘That is what you said, right? University of Whales‘.

Yes, I know I have an accent, ironically part of it Welsh undertones. So, Ed had heard my: ‘I went to Swansea, University of WALES’ and interpreted it, without ever thinking to check, that I had gone to the ‘University of WHALES‘.

Following that start, just for the fun of it, bottles of “Whaler’s” rum became my trademark auction item at Laconia Rotary.

Destination Imagination (DI) New Hampshire, Appraiser Conflicts of Interest Bothers Me

I have a long, and until now very positive, history with New Hampshire Destination Imagination (NH-DI). All 4 of my kids have taken part in DI. Consequently, I have been involved one way or another with NH-DI since 1996. My son, who did NH-DI for four-years, won State twice, in 1999 and 2001, and went onto DI Global Finals in Knoxville, TN.

Last year I was an Assistant Team Manager. This year my wife and I were both Team Managers. I was also an Appraiser and appraised at the Sanborn Regionals (Kingston) on March 17, 2012. My wife and I both attended DI Team Manager training workshops this year, and I, in addition, did the online Team Manager and DI Appraiser training offered by the ‘DI University’. [That our 11-year old ended up as the Gnome at Kingston was a bonus.]

So, I have no axe to grind with NH-DI. I have been a great proponent of NH-DI and have enjoyed being a part of NH-DI.

So what is my gripe?

When my elementary team competed on March 10, 2012, at the Kearsarge (N. Sutton) Regional Meet, in the ‘Coming Attractions’ challenge, I was shocked to see that two of the appraisers were from our school! One of them had even attended our last dress rehearsal the week before and had spoken at length with the kids about their performance.

Until that point it had never crossed my mind that NH-DI permitted such Conflicts of Interest.

Right after their performance the kids (ranging in age from 8 to 11) asked me how it was possible that they were judged by two of their teachers! They found it incongruous.

We did not do well in the challenge, mainly due to stage fright. But, we came 4th out of 10. Here are the results. Given the blatant Conflict of Interest we feel that there should be an asterisk next to our placing! We don’t feel good about it because we know of the Conflict.

So there is my issue. Plain and simple. NH-DI should let all concerned know, from the get go, that it is possible to have Conflicts of Interest when it comes to appraising. That is it. Period.

I just want transparency. NH-DI should publish a list of all the appraisers and their affiliations. That way everything is all above board.

Yes, many sports employ ‘partial’ judges and Olympic ice skating and free style skiing comes to mind. But, the affiliations of the judges are always disclosed.

To me, having these secret conflicts of interest totally undermine the integrity and credibility of NH-DI.

In my opinion, it is not fair on the kids. They put a lot of effort into the competition. Let them have a perfectly level playing field — SANS suspicions of Conflicts of Interest.

What have I done?

Right after the competition, on March 14, 2012, I e-mailed Jim Heedles the Regional Master for that event. I also contacted, via e-mail, Kara Swedlow, the NH-DI the Affiliate Director. They, for obvious reasons, want to play down this issue. I also tried AskDI@dihq.org but they just referred me back to NH-DI!

I have also spoken, by e-mail and in person when I attended the March 17 event, with a number of NH-DI officials. All of them expressed ‘surprise’ at what I had to say and ‘promised’ to look into it. But, nothing has happened — and I can fully appreciate that NH-DI does not want their results and reputation to be compromised.

The young lady coordinating my appraising on March 17 had asked me via e-mails whether I had any conflicts of interests. I informed her that I had none at the meet that I was officiating — but told her what had happened at the March 10 meet. She assured me that they try very had to avoid such conflicts.

So imagine my shock when one of the appraisers I was judging with, on March 17, informed us that he was a teacher at the school that had just performed — and he had appraised!

I spoke with the coordinator. She was aware of it, but said that the teacher had assured her that he did not know any of the kids in that team.

Come on! All I am asking for is transparency. With DI there should never be any doubts or suspicions that the kids did not get a fair shake of the stick.

Thanks for reading this. I feel much better now that I have got this off my chest.

Anura Guruge

Devanee Is The Gnome At NH Destination Imagination (DI) Kingston Regionals On March 17, 2012

This was serendipitous to say the least.

I was an appraiser for that meet and Devanee came with me because she enjoys going to DI meets. They were looking for a person to wear the costume and they spotted Devanee, looking bored, sitting on a bench at 7:30 am (the appraisers having to sign in at 7am). It was great. She did a great job. This was even better than her performing at DI the week before. She was the star at both the opening and closing ceremonies.

Here is Devanee with me, after the closing ceremonies – 12 hours after we got there at 6:50 in the morning!

Anura Guruge, DI, destination imagination, gnome, Devanee

Devanee and I.

For more pictures of Devanee as the irrepressible gnome check these two links:
1/ Opening ceremonies at which she danced and greeted each team.
2/ Closing ceremonies at which she also did her stuff.