Students from Berea Community Schools hosted teams from Clay and Owsley counties in Berea for activities and hands-on learning as part of a Destination ImagiNation Skills and Challenges Day.  Destination Imagination is an educational program where students work together to solve challenges with creativity and enthusiasm. Last Saturday, the students constructed sturdy towers out of toothpicks and gum drops and built contraptions that held ping pong balls underwater. Then they planned out and performed short plays for one another—but only after they designed their own background scenery.

A Berea Community team tests the load-bearing strength of their toothpick and gumdrop tower.

Levi and Sofia Saderholm, cousins who attend Berea Community, said students who are not part of Destination ImagiNation are missing out.  “It’s really, really fun,” Sofia said.  “Everyone there is really nice and they do their best to make you fit in and feel like, ‘I’m a member of the DI family.”  Levi agreed. “It’s really welcoming and really easy to catch on.  All you need is a little imagination.”

J.P. Hensley and Mamie Bowling create props for a skit that must include a magical, mysterious object.

“I think this is a great thing, to get all together and have fun,” said J.P. Hensley, a fifth-grader at Manchester Elementary.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Frankie Baldwin, a freshman at Owlsey County High School.  “You’re not going to see it anywhere else at school, just having fun and practicing,” agreed Axel Bryant, also a freshman at OCHS.  “Grab up your friends and just join,” he said.  “It really helps with your friendships, too, because you learn more about each other as you work together.”  “It will be the experience of a lifetime,” Baldwin added.

The day of learning new skills and attempting “instant challenges” was intended to prepare the teams of students for state competition in March.  If teams have enough success competing in Kentucky, they can advance to the Global Finals in Knoxville, Tennessee in May.  Globals are the culminating event of the Destination ImagiNation year, where 15,000 attendees descend on Knoxville to watch teams from 13 countries showcase their yearlong efforts.

Owsley County High School students had five minutes to build a town out of Play-doh.

Bill Broomhead started working with Destination ImagiNation when his daughter joined a team.  Six years later, he is the director of Destination ImagiNation for Kentucky.  “DI gives kids the ability to work together as a team, to take the individual skills that the kids are good at and combine them and use+ those to get out of an academic environment and realize what they’re learning in school makes a difference.”

Broomhead said that interested parents should get involved in Destination ImagiNation at their child’s school.  “More than enough kids always volunteer.  The problem is getting parents or teachers that are willing to spend their time and effort to shepherd these kids along.”  For more information about teams at Berea Community Schools, contact Connie Mondine  To find out more about the team at Manchester Elementary, contact team manager Mamie Bowling at 606-598-6333.   To learn more about teams in Owsley County, contact Glenn Baker at 606-593-6363, ext. 1011.  For more information about Destination ImagiNation, visit