FARMINGTON — Six teams of students from around San Juan County took first place at the Destination Imagination New Mexico Tournament on April 12 and some of those teams are preparing for the international competition in May.

The winning teams from Blanco Elementary School in Bloomfield along with Koogler Middle School and Aztec High School in Aztec will be traveling to the Destination Imagination Global Finals in Knoxville, Tenn. from May 21 to 24.

Park Avenue Elementary in Aztec had two teams win first place in their categories but teacher Jocelyn Magee said the teams, "D.I. of the Tiger" and "Nerd Herd," will not be participating at nationals due to the young ages of the students.

Courtesy of Abena McNeely  Ojo Amarillo Elementary School student Dakota Santee poses with her winning art design, which is featured on New Mexico
Courtesy of Abena McNeely Ojo Amarillo Elementary School student Dakota Santee poses with her winning art design, which is featured on New Mexico Destination Imagination T-shirts this year.

San Juan County schools had a big presence at the state competition held in Albuquerque, where groups of students used teamwork and formed creative solutions to solve a multitude of challenges. Schools in Aztec, Bloomfield and Farmington accounted for 27 of the 70 participating teams. A regional tournament was held on February 25 for county schools to compete for a spot at the state tournament.

Sally Travis, Blanco Elementary gifted coordinator, said this is the first year for a team from the school to make it to the national competition.

Travis said the "Quizzlers", team of fifth-graders, tackled an improvisational-based challenge called "Pandemonium." The students were tasked with improvising a skit based on a time period selected by the judges.


The students had to research six historical time periods to prepare for the competition and develop stage makeup techniques to portray characters from their research.

"They really support each other and work together very complementary," Travis said. "They were very polite to the judges and very relaxed in front of adults. They did a good job."

At the state competition, Aztec Municipal Schools took first place in "The Tensions Builds" challenge at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

The challenge tasks students to design and build a wooden structure to with stand 10 pounds of weighted plates while creating a skit involving tension created from a situation.

The "Di-Vinci's" team from Aztec High School chose to focus their performance piece for the challenge on the tension created during the Cold War between the United States and the former Soviet Union.

Aztec High School senior Charles Dobey said teammate Kortney Anthony performed a rap song about the post-World War II rivalry between the two nations while team members including Dobey acted out portions of the song as she performed.

Charles formed the team this school year after participating in Destination Imagination challenges in the past with his mother and team manager, retired Aztec teacher Fran Dobey. The teamwork required for the competition led the students to becoming friends.

"We all grew into friends," Charles Dobey said. "We have such good team work and we bounce off each other's ideas."

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or Follow him on Twitter @jkelloggdt.