H.B. Lee sixth-grade students participate in an after-school club focused on creative problem solving, will perform at state April 5

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Angeliki Hatziyiannis, Vanessa Smoke, Alejandra Ortega, Syairah Sims and Alicia Vuong rehearse for the Destination Imagination state performance. Their team is called Insert Funny Joke Here.

With conversations about a lady unicorn painting and a time machine, imagination comes to life in Anney Hicks’ language arts and social studies classroom.

Talented and Gifted (TAG) sixth-grade students at H.B. Lee Middle School are participating in a competitive program called Destination Imagination through Metropolitan Family Service’s SUN program.

In the program, students learn how to creatively and collaboratively solve problems.

The H.B. Lee team, “Insert Funny Joke Here,” earned third place at the regional Destination Imagination tournament March 1.

Five of the students — Alejandra Ortega, Vanessa Smoke, Syairah Sims, Alicia Vuong and Angeliki Hatziyiannis — will compete at the state level Saturday, April 5, in Corvallis.

For their state performance, students are revamping their skit about a missing piece of art in a museum that they have to travel back in time to find.

“It’s fun to watch them solve problems,” Hicks said. “As adults, we have a tendency to do things a different way. It’s amazing to watch them rise to the challenge. It’s also fun to see their personalities and character come out — they are so funny!”

For example, in their performance at Century High School in Hillsboro earlier this month, Team Insert Funny Joke Here’s set crashed on them, and they were forced to improvise.

Participating students have spent up to three days a week working on their performance and even dedicated a couple Saturdays to Destination Imagination.

“We’re aiming for first at state,” Sims said. “We have really bonded and had a chance to think on our own.”

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Alan Luu, left, and Steven Diep study the rules for the challenge they are about to begin: seeing how long they can float marbles in water using paper clips, pencils and pipe cleaners.

Each day, Hicks presents a challenge that students have to solve. Monday, March 17, Alan Luu and Steven Diep had to see how long they could float marbles in water using paper clips, pencils and pipe cleaners.

Metropolitan Family Service runs 24 Community schools, 19 SUN Community schools and five CAFE Community schools in low-income neighborhoods, offering a variety of extended day classes for students and adults, including parenting classes, family resource fairs, academic help and pre-kindergarten readiness programs.

Its mission is “to help people move beyond the limitations of poverty, inequity and social isolation.”

SUN also fights food insecurity through five school-based food pantries in east Multnomah County. 

To learn more about Metropolitan Family Service and the SUN Community schools, visit

Contract Publishing

Go to top
Template by JoomlaShine