Thurston Middle School hosts top thinkers of tomorrow


Sixty-two teams of students from Orange and San Diego county schools descended on Thurston Middle School in Laguna Beach on Saturday for the Destination Imagination California regional tournament.

Students competed in various timed scientific, technical and structural challenges that tested their creativity and problem-solving skills. The activities are meant to align with STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — disciplines.

Three Thurston teams and a team from Top of the World Elementary School advanced from Saturday’s tournament to the state tournament, to be held April 2 in Riverside.


In the structural category, Thurston students Evan Henry, Joseph Hovanesian, Jared Moy and Miles Riehle placed first, Thurston science teacher Ina Wu said. The group of Josh Foley, Jeff Herkins, Kyle Herkins, Haley Parness and Eliott Schaffer finished second.

In the fourth- and fifth-grade category, Top of the World students Keira Hundhausen, Sydney Alderson, May Chapman, Kennedy Wilson, Finley Greengard, Julie Van der Baan ad Evelyn Lazur placed fourth in the technical category but still qualified for the state tournament.

The group designed and built a friction-powered, motorized scooter. As part of the project, team members, who selected the technical category, disassembled a cordless drill and used its parts to create an electrical circuit to help power the scooter.

In the middle school technical division, Thurston students Brandon Britt, Zack Chestelson, Odin Flores, Trey Ovens, Mack Pardun and Alan You finished second.


At Thurston, students participate in Destination Imagination as an extracurricular event.

Students have met once a week during lunch and also in each other’s homes since fall preparing for their selected challenges, Wu said.

They presented their projects to a group of parent volunteers who vetted each team to ensure they didn’t receive help from adults, Wu said.

Top finishers in the state tournament will advance to the Global Finals in May in Knoxville, Tenn.

Destination Imagination is open to students from kindergarten to university level.