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Destination: Olympics of creativity

Program helps students tap problem-solving skills


Oregon’s Destination Imagination teams have thrived in Portland-area schools for decades, supported by more than 80 volunteers who do everything from judge competitions to coach the school teams.

This year all but two of the Oregon teams heading to the Global Finals come from the metro region, including a couple representing Lake Oswego: Lakeridge High and Westridge Elementary schools.

Destination Imagination is a nonprofit that helps kids around the world discover their ingenuity, and the Global Finals, held May 22-25, are widely considered the Olympics of creativity.

Of the 14 Oregon teams heading to the finals, three are teams of high school seniors who have the potential to bring home the trophy, according to Donna Dreis, the Portland region’s organizer.

Girls in Motion from Lakeridge High School placed first at the Global Finals a few years ago.

The Graduates team from Wilson High School didn’t think they were prepared enough last year but still went to Globals and won special recognition. Their team, which has been together for seven years, includes brothers Edward and Jonathan Crouser, Nathan Palmrose, Amy Whetter and Caitie Baglien.

Brenda Crouser, their coach, started her boys in third grade. She said that while each team needs a committed adult to serve as coach, they don’t get to interfere in the kids’ work: It’s mainly providing the practice space and coordinating logistics.

The third all-senior team this year is the Fighting Mongooses from Sunset High School, a new team that is just as poised and talented as the others, Dreis said.

She considers them all great ambassadors for the program, which she’s trying to promote at the high school level since students at that age sometimes get pulled over to drama, mock trial, robotics and other activities.

Dreis said Destination Imagination teaches kids of all ages to use their problem-solving skills not just for schoolwork but in the real world.

“For me, kids are being taught to test these days,” she said. “They’re not being given an opportunity to be creative. This program gives them a safe place to be as creative as they want to be. There is no right answer. It’s their right answer.”




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