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Dillon Elementary students get creative

Special to the Daily/Leslie Davison
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Children have active imaginations. At Dillon Valley Elementary, those creative minds are being put to use through the Destination ImagiNation program, an after-school activity that encourages teamwork, creativity and problem-solving in children.

Destination ImagiNation participants work in teams, and focus on each other’s skills, talents and personalities to tell stories and solve problems. Each team selects a challenge to work on – in either technical, scientific, fine arts, improvisational or structural categories – and then use their imaginations to tell a story about how they would solve the fabricated problem. Groups compete at regional, state, and then national levels. Two teams from Dillon Valley Elementary recently placed first and second in the regional competitions, and will compete at the state tournament April 16. DVE has nine teams from kindergarten through fifth grade, five of which are too young to compete, but practice challenges for entertainment.

“It was a lot of fun,” said fifth-grader Sophie Krupanszky.



Krupanszky’s team chose the fine arts challenge and had to tell a story involving two different methods of travel. They chose an exploding soda can and abandoned truck – which still had a little bit of gas left.

Competing teams are also presented with instant challenges, where judges watch how children work together when they are suddenly presented with a problem. Groups do not know what they have to do in their instant challenges until they get to tournament.



The website for Destination ImagiNation, Inc. – the nonprofit that heads the program – states the organization is dedicated to promoting creativity, teamwork and problem-solving in children since they are highly-desirable skills in adults. It says creativity has the power to change the world, teamwork unleashes individual strengths, and problem-solving skills are necessary for our world’s future leaders.

All groups have adult team managers, who monitor a team’s progress when they first start practicing together toward the beginning of the school year. Managers only supervise, and do not give advice to children about what they should do, or how they should solve their problem. Lynn Krystopa, an art teacher at DVE, was in charge of a group of second- graders who practiced challenges for fun. Her group had to learn about an insect, and make up a story about the bug’s bad day. Krystopa’s group chose a pill bug, and made props and costumes to act out the bug’s unfortunate series of circumstances. They even wrote and sang a song about the pill bug getting stuck in tree sap, and eventually breaking loose with the help of a lightning bug, a ladybug, a stick and a rainstorm.

“They work really hard,” Krystopa said.


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