Alliance Charter Academy sixth-graders Deon Best, Isaiah Preuitt and Ben Snyder raise money to attend finals May 23-26 in Knoxville, Tennessee

Alliance Charter Academy sixth-graders Deon Best, Isaiah Preuitt and Ben Snyder are hoping to get a taste of Southern hospitality later this month if they can raise enough money to attend the Destination Imagination Global Finals May 23-26 in Knoxville, Tennessee.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Alliance Charter Academy sixth graders Deon Best, Isaiah Preuitt and Ben Snyder are all a part of a Destination Imagination Team called TF (The Future) that took first place at the Oregon State Tournament. The boys are part of a Destination Imagination team called TF (The Future) that recently took first place in its division at the Oregon DI state finals. The global event will bring together teams from each U.S. state and Canadian province, as well as teams from 20 other countries, said Carla Calhoun, parent liaison and education specialist at Oregon City-based ACA.

Destination Imagination is a leading educational nonprofit dedicated to teaching students the skills needed to succeed in school, their careers and beyond, she said.

"Students develop project-based learning programs that blend STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education with arts and social entrepreneurship," she said.

Global competition

At Globals, the students will compete against the top teams in the world by presenting their solution to the Engineering Challenge, which they have been working on all year, said Joy Best, the team's coach.

"They will also complete an instant challenge, which is a timed event, where the team goes in blind and has to use quick thinking, decision-making, and teamwork to complete a task. It's kind of like 'MacGyver,'" she said.

Scores for both events will be totaled and tabulated against other teams to determine a winner. Another important factor is that the team will have the opportunity to "interact, share ideas and learn from other kids from all over the world," Best said.

Starting from zero

For Best, it's been exciting to watch the team start from zero at the beginning of the school year, choose an engineering project as a challenge, devise a plan and get to work.

She watched them learn project-management skills in a fun way, realizing that schools seldom teach such expertise used in real-world jobs daily.

The team worked throughout the year to solve their problem without any adult interference, Best noted, adding that the boys used drills, nail guns, saws, soldering irons, paintbrushes and sound-recording equipment to accomplish their goal.

"This team has gained knowledge in structural, mechanical and technical engineering, [along with] cooperation and teamwork, budgeting, communication skills and creative problem-solving," she said.

Skit, construction

During the state competition, The ACA team put on a short skit about a boy who cuts himself, and gets a staph infection. At the end, he goes to the doctor, takes an antibiotic and gets better.

"In our skit, we use a two-part set. It has a human view on one side, which shows things such as the human cleaning the cut and going to the doctor," Ben said.

The skit also has a bacteria view, which has an extremely zoomed-in view showing the bacteria and how events on the human view affect them, he said.

The team also participated in structural testing, during which members built a structure using wood and glue and dropped weights onto it. This activity must be integrated into the skit, Ben said.

In the skit, he plays the boy who gets the infection, Deon plays the bacteria, and Isiah plays another bacteria and the doctor.

As for the global finals, Ben said he is "looking forward to performing in the skit again, especially with the awesome new additions we're making to it."


"It has been a joy to watch these kids have the freedom to creatively solve a problem without adult interference, which is really a gift in itself, and one that can be applied throughout each of their lives as they grow and face tougher and more serious challenges," Best said.

She noted that one day these young men will become future leaders, engineers, problem-solvers and creative thinkers.

"I feel honored to play a small part in their education, extremely proud of what these young men have already accomplished, inspired by their creativity, and excited to see what happens next in these young men's lives and bright future."

Want to help?

The Alliance Charter Academy's Destination Imagination team needs community support to raise the $6,000 needed to go to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, to compete at the DI Global Finals on May 23.

The team has set up a gofundme account at

Supporters also may send a tax-deductible donation to Joy Best Destination Imagination, c/o Alliance Charter Academy, 16075 Front Ave., Oregon City.

More information: Call ACA at 503-785-8556 or send an email to Joy Best, coach of the DI team, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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