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Destination Imagination Global Finals

Destination Imagination Global Finals

Seven local high school students, from three different Burke County Public Schools, recently competed at the Destination Imagination (DI) Global Finals in Kansas City. Their team finished ninth in the world for their secondary division and Fine Arts challenge. This included  defeating teams from China, Poland, Ukraine, Canada, Texas, and Ohio, just to name a few. Students included Emmaline Phipps from Burke Middle College, Nancy McQuaid, from Patton and Kendall Ingram, Sophie Mosely, Haven Edwards, Cache Hickman and Gabe Garrison, all from Draughn.

 DI is an international competitive Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (S.T.E.A.M) organization that focuses on creative problem solving and divergent thinking. It is completely student centered and teams cannot receive any outside assistance.  Students dream it, design it, build it, and compete with it.  Each DI challenge requires participants to use S.T.E.A.M. skills in order to be successful.   

        In this Fine Arts challenge, students had to take an existing piece of artwork, from any style or artist, and recreate it as a performance art piece. This involved an original story including a static and dynamic character that goes through some time of conflict. They also had to create a piece of moving kinetic art. The team’s chosen artwork was a sculpture by Linda Perlmutter called Headless Horseman. A reinterpretation of  “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” was created to explain the true reason why the Headless Horseman haunts citizens. Sculpture was portrayed by use of shadow puppetry and digital animation using three team members that had never animated before this competition.  
North Carolina DI Affiliate Director and Team Manager Michael McQuaid,  said “The team worked extremely hard for several months to create a solution to the challenge that could compete at the Global Level. I am extremely proud of them. To be in the top 10 in the entire world is huge! This team also has been the high scoring team fielded by Burke County Public School students since the district started DI in 2007. I am eternally grateful for Case Farms, Bowers Insurance, VX Aerospace, Smokefoot Pawn, Chick-Fil-A of Morganton, and El Portal. Loving family and friends assisted these fine businesses and helped me raise $15,000 to make this dream trip a reality.”

Five year DI veteran Cache Hickman said, “This was my first Global Finals. It was nice to finally realize the sheer scale of the program and meet others from far away states and countries.” In regards to the challenge, Cache not only served as the Headless Horseman, but also with construction aspects. He said, “I contributed heavily to the building of our primary mobile set piece this year. We faced many hurdles, but being able to reveal a puppet show by simply opening a set of double doors was what we wanted and achieved.”

Currently there are DI teams at Heritage, Liberty, and Walter Johnson middle schools.  These BCPS teams are made possible with financial help from the GEAR UP program of Appalachian State University. McQuaid said “I am hoping to get DI to grow more in Burke County. It really is a great program that allows kids to be creative, innovative, and grow 21st Century skills in a competitive setting.”   If you are interested in learning more about the program or want to start a team for the 2024-2025 season, please contact Michael McQuaid at  Check out NCDI’s website at  or the international website at