KNOXVILLE, Tenn. 77 It started with Elvis Presley and ended with a dead invisible dog.
But as weird as that might sound, the tale spun by a combined Judkins and Paulding middle-school team was good enough to win the judges/ points and the title of world champions last weekend at the Destination ImagiNation Global Finals.
The south San Luis Obispo County students faced the best 53 middle-school teams in the world late Friday afternoon, and on Monday at the awards ceremony they walked away with a trophy for the school and gold medals for each team member.
It marked the first time a Lucia Mar Unified School District middle-school team has won the international competition, although the district has sent teams to the world finals in eight of the previous nine years.
Arroyo Grande High School, which won the world title in 1998, also shone last weekend, capturing fourth place against the top 50 teams in the world.
Both teams competed in the "Art of Improv" category, and both also had to compete in the Instant Challenge. The Judkins/Paulding team was the only one from California to take a first-place award in the contest.
"It was phenomenal," said Mike Liebo, the Judkins drama teacher who coordinated the teams this year.
The Judkins/Paulding team is made up of Zac Efron and Bryce Blue of Paulding Middle School, and Brogan Sterns, Anthony Martin, Dan "Johnny" Angel and Chris Reinacher of Judkins Middle School.
The AGHS team was made up of Asher Metchik, Nickole Miller, Britain Medinger, Andrew Hansen, Kirsten Barrett and Arianna Miller-Rhodes.
Both teams, along with others from throughout the district, began researching and practicing last fall, working their way through the eliminations to the state finals in April, when they earned the right to compete at the Global Finals.
"They were their normal, charismatic selves," Liebo said of the Judkins/Paulding team.
Judkins eighth-grader Brogan Sterns, 13, explained the problem and the team/s approach.
"We had 30 minutes to make up a skit," Brogan said. "We had to research six different paintings and six explorations, such as space, underwater, sports." Then they pulled those out of a hat to see which they would get. The team was given a situation to incorporate into the skit.
The painting was Brett Whiteley/s "The Boxing Match;" the exploration category was sports.
And the situation? "Ours was an invisible dog that followed you," Brogan said. "Then one minute before the play, they gave us a surprise character … a manicurist," and certain props.
Brogan explained the storyline the team developed: "A manicurist/director was told to find an Irish boy to go find people to model underwear for his Hanes commercial. He went to Japan to find sumo wrestlers and to Europe to find people curling. When he had two, they modeled in a match at Sharkey/s, which was the actual bar where the artist went to paint /The Boxing Match./ In the end, they invented boxer briefs. Get it?"
And the invisible dog? "The dog grabbed the manicurist by the leg, so he gave it to the Irish boy and it followed him around the world. At the end, it was chasing him and he threw down the cardboard box. We hit the box, so it sounded like the dog ran into it. In the end, the dog died."
May 31, 2002