Destination: State

Destination Imagination Ties for Second at Regional Competition, Advances to State


Sophomores Mathew Sniffen, Mina Danesh, Cara Allen, Erica Mihealsick, Erin Alexander and Gabrielle Merrill pose after placing second at the Regional competition. The State competition took place last Saturday in Arlington, Texas. “It’s a really low-key group to be a part of,” Danesh said. “It looks good on college transcripts [and] resumes, and it can be a really friendship-building thing to meet more people and to strengthen bonds that you already have.” (Photo Courtesy of Cedar Park High School Destination Imagination)

Caleb Taylor, Reporter

Imagine an extracurricular activity that combines theatre, construction and team building. Destination Imagination, or DI, is defined on its website as a “global, volunteer-led nonprofit organization that hosts Team Challenges for students who want to take on the entire creative process.”

According to sophomore Mina Danesh, it’s a way for creative-minded students to get together, make friends, and participate in competitions to practice their improvisation, quick thinking and performance skills. 

It’s a really low-key group to be a part of,” Danesh said. “It looks good on college transcripts [and] resumes, and it can be a really friendship-building thing to meet more people and to strengthen bonds that you already have.”

The team is advised by English teacher Nancy Steele, who has been a part of the school’s team for the last 12 years. Beth Allen, the mother of one of the students, acts as the parent manager for the team.

“Mrs. Allen has been with them since about fourth or fifth grade,” Steele said. “Most of the teammates have been together that long, and they’ve done it in elementary, middle school and now high school. [Destination Imagination] gives our kids an opportunity to think differently, to solve real world problems and think on their feet. It’s a good opportunity for them to grow in terms of their teamwork and collaboration.”

In meetings, the team does mock challenges to practice for the competitions after warming up with improv games. The team starts with some social time to get comfortable, and then jumps into creative activities such as one-word stories or innovative exercises.

“When we practice, we pick things, themes or stuff we like that we want to incorporate [into our performance],” sophomore Erica Mihealsick said. “We usually do a lot about space or just random animal facts and we try to incorporate that into something we do during competition. That usually is a default for when you don’t know when to be creative or how – it just makes it easier.”

The team’s competitions are judged by a panel of appraisers on a point scale based on a team’s presentation and construction. The team keeps this system in mind during their meetings when they’re prepping their skills.

“It’s impossible to prepare for every possible thing that could come up, of course,” Steele said. “But what they work on in their practices is mental flexibility, teamwork and being able to speak articulately in front of these appraisers. Some of them are college students and others have been with DI for a long time.”

At the Regional competition, the team tied for second place. However, the group agrees that aside from the actual competition, the most exciting aspect of DI is collecting and trading lapel pins at the conventions. At State, an entire gym was dedicated to pins, with booths for purchasing, trading and selling them with other DI fans.

“It’s a huge part of DI culture to trade pins,” Danesh said. “There are pins that get released every year for each region and then for state. If you make it to state, there’s some really sick pins [available]. They’re usually like five bucks for a set of one or two, or you can get mystery bags that are five bucks. It’s really addictive and we spend a lot of money.”

The team competed in the State competition last Saturday at The University of Texas at Arlington. They don’t yet know how they placed other than not being in the top three to advance, but they otherwise have high hopes.

“Our challenge was, like a week beforehand, to prepare a box with a number of different materials from around the house,” sophomore Cara Allen said. “Then we brought that in and we had to build a horse from it, and then we put on a skit based on that. UT Arlington has a bunch of these spirit horses, so it’s based on that.”