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Murray Journal

Horizon Students Earn State Title in Creative Pursuits

Jan 28, 2016 10:20AM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama [email protected]

Murray - For the first time ever, Murray students have earned the state title in the Creative Pursuits Bowl. The team of Horizon sixth-graders created a museum medieval exhibition model that matched the theme of “Night of the Museum” that helped them to win the first-place trophies.

At the bowl, each school district in the state could send two top teams in fifth and sixth grades to compete in a three-part competition: an original museum model, a skit to highlight the model and a demonstration of impromptu thinking skills. The students have to meet guidelines, such as materials they can use, a $10 cost limit and time period.

Since September, Horizon’s Knights of Shining Armor team met after school to research medieval times and practice impromptu questions. They also created and practiced their skit. Then, they had to win their school competition on Nov. 12 to advance to the Murray School District contest that was Nov. 20. Horizon’s Knights beat 13 other teams to compete at the state bowl, which was held Dec. 1 at South Jordan Middle School.

The first place state sixth-grade team consists of Emma Robison, Breann Burningham, Gabby Gratton, Jaxon Davis and Rachel Christensen.

“At the beginning, we were all really good friends, but at the end we were better friends. We were a team that was undefeated,” sixth-grader Emma Robison said. “We actually went through all the stages when forming a small group or team. You know, the forming, storming, norming and then performing. My mom always talks to me about this and tells me that it is normal and will make us stronger as a team. Each member of the team contributed something different. For example, Breann had been in a lot of plays and really helped us learn to project for our skit. Rachel was definitely into the details and wanted things to be just right. Gabby was good at painting and did most of the painting. Jaxon was the master typer and did a lot of the research for our museum. He was also really funny in our skit. And Mrs. Graves was super nice to let us take over her classroom and hallway for three months.” 

Merissa Graves, Horizon teacher and their coach, is a first-year Creative Pursuits adviser.

“I couldn’t give them any creative ideas; it was all them,” she said. “They went to the computer lab, researched materials that tied into their core curriculum and made everything by hand that they put into their museum. The more ideas they had, the more they creative they became and then, scored better.”

Using the supply list, they created a castle covered by boxes with butcher paint; costumes created with sheets and safety pins; a catapult with Popsicle sticks and rubber bands; and a dress created out of felt.

So with their creative juices working overtime, the fifth- and sixth-grade teams went up against each other to showcase their models in skits. Each team created their own props and costumes from a list of items, with the more items included, the more points awarded.

Horizon’s costumes included colorful sheets pinned together, a hair piece created from a plastic milk jug and gray yarn.

Graves said that the team learned not only about the subject matter of medieval times, but also how to research, come up with their own ideas, collaborate, be organized and take initiative — all on their own.

Through designing and building a museum display, students needed to use skills in research, social studies and technology. With the impromptu part of the competition, students used language arts skills, and in their performances, they used public speaking, memorization, theater and gained self-confidence. 

Another aspect of the competition is for students to have impromptu responses. There were two prompts which asked students to identify unusual and varied answers, again rewarding students for not only answering, but for being creative and original, Graves said.

In each area, they also learned to collaborate and work as a team.

“What really helped these students is their team dynamics. They were comfortable with one another and could work together. They also have artistic abilities and added some amazing paintings and details to their skit that set them apart,” Graves said.

Creative Pursuits started out in the Salt Lake School District in 1979 as a less expensive option to Odyssey of the Mind. The other districts were invited to participate so it would be a friendly competition.