Destination ImagiNation
Meeting the challenges, creatively

For five out of six of Pagosa’s Destination ImagiNation teams, the next destination is Denver, where the teams will compete at the statewide level.

Last year, Pagosa had four DI teams, one of which — The Pagosa Imaginators — won the state competition and went on to compete in the global competition in Tennessee.

This year, five Pagosa teams will have a chance to compete to go on to Globals.

DI is the world’s largest creative problem-solving academic competition, according to Sally High, DI coordinator for Archuleta School District 50 Jt.

Student teams of up to seven members at the elementary, middle or high school levels, compete in “challenges,” which are interdisciplinary and standards-based. They involve theatre, visual arts, music, writing, reading, math and science. The challenges, “ask the kids to be incredibly creative, innovative and to use the sharpest of problem solving skills,” said High.

Adults have no hand in the competition, apart from arranging logistics, said High. “Every single part of the problem solving, the costumes, the set-design, the music, the scripts they write, etc. is entirely kid-driven,” she explained.

Last Saturday, the Pagosa teams swept the southwest regional competition at Escalante Middle School, with five out of the six Pagosa teams winning the right to travel to the state competition in Denver on April 18. Many of the six teams also won additional special recognition awards.

The DI Einsteins, a group of fourth- and fifth-graders competing for the first time this year, placed third at regionals. They also won a Renaissance Award, as well as a Spirit Award for cooperation.

The fourth and fifth grade DI Nerds won first place in their ViDio Lit Hits challenge competition — a project in which the kids retold a well-known story from literature as part of a musical and theatrical performance (a bit like a live music video) that the students, wrote, choreographed and performed themselves). They also won two Renaissance awards.

The Xtremes, The Imaginators IV and The Enginerds all took first place and The Gala-Pagosa Turtles won second place. All of these teams will be going on to compete at the state level. Additionally, The Imaginators won the coveted DaVinci Award for outstanding creativity.

“I am so proud of this program, and how much my son, Blake, has grown through Destination ImagiNation,” said Joanne Irons, mother of Blake Irons, a member of the DI Nerds. “Who would have thought my son would sing and act in front of judges with six other teammates and win not only first place but also two Renaissance Awards for outstanding skill in the areas of engineering, design or performance. Destination Imagination connects the education standards and uses all disciplines to do so.  This process inspires the students to solve problems, search for creative solutions and work cooperatively with others.”

“I think it offers kids opportunities to practice skills that aren’t always practiced in the classroom, like building and creating. They have a chance to work in a very holistic way,” said High. “It’s just an amazing competition, and we’re so proud of all our teams for what they’ve accomplished.”

To find out more about Destination ImagiNation, you can visit their Web site at

Photo courtesy DI
The DI Nerds won first place winners in the Elementary Level Video Lit Hits at regional DI competition, and they also won two Renaissance Awards. In front, from left, are Hannah Hemenger, Addie Thompson, Hayley Mitchell. In back are Andie Miller, manager Cheryl Bowdridge, Brooke Bowdridge, Blake Irons and Liam O’Brien.

Photo courtesy DI
The Enginerds, from Pagosa Springs High School, captured first place at regionals and will compete at the state level DI event. In back, from left, are manager Alicia O’Brien, manager Sabra Miller, Zach Graveson and Seth Hansen. In front are Kelsea Anderson and Peter Morey.

Photo courtesy DI
The GalaPagosa Turtles were second place winners for their central challenge, called Operation Cooperation. Team members from left are Mikaela Marchand, Maya Novak-Herzog, Marcy Mitchell (manager), Brayden Mitchell, Thane Trumble, Kelly Trumble (manager), Allison Kuhns and Colton Polczynski.