The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

By Larry LaCom
for The Loop 

Meet Tehachapi's Destination Imagination Team


The Destination Imagination team from Cummings Valley Elementary School, the only team from Kern County advancing to the World Conference in Knoxville, TN, holds a fundraising dinner at The Shed in Tehachapi. In this photo (L to R), Chris Lipscomb, Katelyn Fair, Breck Leon, Zeb Fuller, Carter Barthlemes and Milo Lujan. (Not pictured: Owen Keller, who had a baseball game.)

Destination Imagination is an international organization that provides kids with opportunities to enhance their education by forming teams that participate in structured challenges, competing to advance to regional, state, national and international events.

The team from Cummings Valley Elementary School advanced to the regional competition in Redlands, then on to the state finals in Sacramento, where they became the only Kern County team to advance to the Global Finals in Knoxville, Tenn. on May 24-27. The "Challenge," chosen from a menu of various challenges, is called Show and Tech, where they

• Present a show that includes an opening act and a headlining act.

• Design and build a stage on which the acts will take place and that will move a team member from one location to another.

• Enhance each act with a technical effect to amaze the audience.

• Create and present two Team Choice Elements that show off the team's interest, skills, areas of strength, and talents. (From the Destination Imagination website)

The props the kids put together included a solar-powered police car with flashing lights and loud horn, a battery-powered electromagnet capable of lifting heavy weights, and a Tesla coil.

Mano Lujan, owner of The Shed, and his wife Mei Mei, donated all the food, and he and his employees donated all their time to make this fundraiser event a success. Mano was out on the deck of The Shed grilling tri-tip as we spoke.

The fundraiser consisted of a buffet dinner including tri-tip, pulled pork, BBQ chicken, and tilapia, with all the fixin's and sides. $15 bought a complete meal, and $3 bought a kids' meal with hot dogs.

The team organizer, Melissa Fair, when asked if attendance was up to what she had hoped, could only say that while she had very little time to promote it, attendance looked pretty good. She sent flyers home with each child at Cummings Valley Elementary School, as well as flyers to several local businesses. Facebook, however, was her main promotional tool. When she put the word out on Facebook for local businesses to offer raffle prizes, the response from the business community was overwhelming.

This photo shows Katelyn Fair and Chris Lipscomb with a portion of their project, a solar-powered electric police car they created, complete with flashing lights and a loud horn.

As the evening progressed in the dining room one local resident, who chose to remain anonymous, wanted to make sure The Loop's readers knew that this event, and Destination Imagination, is a huge and positive influence for the children who get to participate. It teaches them teamwork, creativity and resourcefulness, and gives them a chance at adventure and travel to distant cities and to compete on a global scale. This father, whose child was on another team that didn't win, still wanted everyone to know that he came to support this team because it's such a positive influence, and he wants to see it continue to be supported here in Tehachapi.

The Team is busy raising funds for their trip. On May 11 the team had a fundraiser at Dunkin' Donuts, and they will be having another one on May 18 at Hungry Howie's. The Tehachapi location will be donating 10% of all sales that day to the team. Donations can also be made online at


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