When most students were packing for the pool, vacation, or camp, four recent graduates of the fifth grade were about to begin three challenging weeks of international competition. Jasmine Lugo, Declan Koerper, Faith McPherson, and Elle Smith represented St. Mary’s Academy at the Destination Imagination (DI) Globals over the summer – an international competition to test creativity, spontaneity, engineering, writing, video production skills and more. They placed 7th in the world in their category, one of only a few Colorado teams to achieve top ten honors.
Earlier this year, the SMA team was ranked 1st in Denver and placed 2nd in the state tournament. Two additional students, fourth graders Hal Hart and Isabella Montes de Oca, also participated in these local competitions. The team was coached by parents Tiffany Archer and Amy Smith.
A second SMA team also participated in the DI Globals, including rising fourth grade students Charlie Clevenger, Lachlan Nack, Gaby Pruitt-Fuentes, and Connor Webb, with parent team managers Amy Clevenger and William Webb.
The journey to globals for the world finishers was a long one. In initial competitions, SMA students selected DI’s scientific category for their challenge. They were tasked with identifying a scientific law and illustrating how it could be broken. Unlike past in-person competitions, this year’s solution was packaged in a professional five-minute video, without adult intervention.The SMA production focused on the periodic table of elements – a topic inspired by Science Specialist Clark Addington's fifth grade science class. In a unique twist, the students examined the periodic table through the lens of music, injecting humor, art, and creative puns throughout the story.
To prepare for the Global competition, the industrious inventors put in extra hours over Zoom to make improvements to their solution – which happened to coincide with the last week of school and graduation! Without pause, they maintained their enthusiasm and began meeting at the start of summer break to compete in a brand-new DI global challenge called the “Fast Flex”. The team was given 10 days to produce another 5-minute video about a scientific device. Their Fast Flex solution was one of the highest rated in the entire international competition.
Sponsored by SMA teacher BJ McDonald, St. Mary's Academy Lower School had six DI teams this year, three competitive and three Rising Star teams (Grades K-2).
The St. Mary's Academy Destination Imagination program at SMA was established with the founding of the organization in 1999; the Academy participated in a similar Odyssey of the Mind program before that. SMA won 1st Place in the Global Finals in 2014 and has seen nearly 30 teams participate at that level.
Destination Imagination, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) volunteer-led non-profit organization whose purpose is to inspire and equip students to become the next generation of innovators and leaders. The organization is a leader in project-based learning experiences, where students work together in teams to solve open-ended STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) and service learning Challenges and then present their solutions at tournaments.