Some local Hillbilly Hot Rods and Waste Warriors will be representing St. Clair at an international competition next month.

The two R-XIII School District teams earned that right by advancing to the Destination Imagination Global finals in Knoxville, Tenn., on May 21-25.

The Hillbilly Hot Rods, a sixth-grade after-school problem-solving team, placed first at the Missouri Creative Adventures Tournament earlier this month at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin. The Waste Warriors II, a fifth-grade challenge team, placed second in the Project Outreach category at the state competition.

Hillbilly Hot Rods members are Derick Grus, Austin Hinson, Jacob Hawkins, Madison Husereau, Luke Feddersen and Ben Nance.

The Waste Warriors are Alana Hinson, Alyssa McCormack and Lillian Williams.

Both teams are under the guidance of R-XIII gifted education teacher Jennifer Hawkins. 

In Joplin, the Hillbilly Hot Rods competed in a technical challenge called “In the Zone.” Its skit demonstrated the dangers vehicles face during a motocross race. Characters included a dirt bike, ambulance and a gurney.

The main challenge was to create 10 cars with at least three different propulsion systems that stopped in various zones.

The Waste Warriors II team created a recycling station for the Edgar Murray Elementary School. Team members created a composting station. Their mission was to reduce waste in their school cafeteria.

Two other teams competed in the state competition: the NerDIneerz, a fifth-grade challenge team, and The 7 Wonders of DI, a sixth-grade afterschool problem-solving team.

Destination Imagination is an educational program where student teams solve open-ended challenges and present their solutions at tournaments. In working to solve the challenges, teams learn important life skills like time management, collaboration, conflict resolution and creative and critical thinking.

The global finals is the largest competition of creativity and problem-solving in the world, Hawkins has said. This is the third year in a row St. Clair is sending teams to the finals.

For more information about the global finals, visit


To help with expenses for their Knoxville trip, the teams are selling survival bracelets at St. Clare Catholic School on Saturday. Quilt and shotgun raffles also will take place.

Hawkins also said a car wash and bake sale tentatively is planned for May 4.

The groups also will accept donations and sponsorships.

For more information, contact Hawkins.