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Destination Imagination regional tournament builds confidence, teamwork

Cherry Creek HS students performing their skitTake a bow! Twenty-two teams from a dozen schools participated in the Cherry Creek School District’s annual Destination Imagination regional tournament, held on March 11 at Grandview High School.

Each team selected a challenge and worked together to develop a solution, then presented their challenge to the judges. This year, every challenge had a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) element and a technical piece to it. The students had to come up with an idea and create the skit, make sure the specific challenge is incorporated, and build the set, without any parent help.

“We want them to learn confidence, teamwork, problem solving skills, and that the first time might not work, but you can take something from that and keep building,” Cherry Creek Schools Destination Imagination Co-regional Director Susie Balagna explained. “It’s thrilling to watch the kids. They are doing so well.”

Greenwood Elementary fourth grader Abigail Tambor and her team created a puzzle challenge from real-life mysteries that they researched, such as Amelia Earhart. They practiced every Wednesday after school. Tambor said they frequently had to tweak their skit because they kept coming up with new ideas.

Challenge students in front of their props.“I recommend other students do Destination Imagination because it lets you be creative instead of letting your ideas be trapped in your brain and you can share them with someone. Something like this is a whole other opportunity,” Tambor added.

Team Destiny from Challenge School created a skit where they were at a birthday party, and someone gifted the birthday girl tickets to a carnival. They time traveled to the carnival, where they ate ice cream and rode a rollercoaster.

“I hope these students take away from Destination Imagination to listen to others, learn to manage and cooperate,” Team manager Haiyan Huang said.

Organizers say many students receive college scholarships after being a part of Destination Imagination.

“It’s such a great life experience. A lot of companies are looking for employees who have had Destination Imagination as part of their growing up years,” Regional Director of Cherry Creek Schools Destination Imagination Maureen Dewar said. “Those students have realized that project management skills are the best skills that they can have, and we’ve got some of the top companies in the country hiring our students as soon as they get done with college because of D.I.”

The winners of this competition will go on to the state competition on April 1, which will put them in the running for the national and international competition that will see entries from across the country and around the globe.

Posted on 3/14/2023.


Piece by Piece Early Learners

1. Imagining Fire Dragons: Nikita Prabhu, Summer Sachen from Cottonwood Creek
2. Flaming Hot Pickles: Elizabeth Finch from Greenwood

Flip the Script Early Learners

1. starburst: Mark Perlman, Darcey Perlman, Stephanie Francom from Cottonwood Creek
2. The Outstanding Axolotls: Kelly Horan, Christina Ericson from Coyote Hills
3. Snow White Sooper Stars: Kerri Morgan, Erin Draeger from Coyote Hills
4. Fantastic Fashion Glitter Queens: Sarah Barnhart, Hyesuk Kuemmerlin from Cottonwood Creek
5. Blazing Panthers: Rose Buck from Ponderosa

Flip the Script

1. Nathan Wilcox, Campus Middle School
2. The Cannibalistic Marshmallows: Kristen Donegan, Sky Vista Middle School

Flip the Script High School

1. KACHOW: Mark Perlman, Darcey Perlman, Nathan Pollak from Cherry Creek High School
2. DI or Die: Kristine Wussow

Showdown Early Learners

1. Flaming Phoenixes: Brooke Yates from Cottonwood Creek
2. The Mysterious DI Society: Julia Pilkington, Heidi Reger from Greenwood


1. Closet Improv: Kristen Donegan from Sky Vista Middle School

Showdown High School

1. Did You Miss Us: Natalie Vona Messersmith, Debbie Chen-Becker from Cherry Creek High School
2. Reeses Preeces: Jennie Preece from Cherry Creek High School

Thrill Ride Early Learners

1. Team Destiny: Haiyan Huang from Challenge School

Thrill Ride

1. Tech Pack: Kristen Donegan from Sky Vista Middle School

High Stakes

1. Garfumple: Kristen Donegan from Sky Vista Middle School