Hundreds of parents, teachers and students gathered at Clement Taylor Park on Friday for Destin Middle School’s 20th annual cardboard boat race.

As part of their academic curriculum, seventh graders created and raced in homemade cardboard boats in the Choctawhatchee Bay. Students took home prizes for winning the race, best-dressed crew or theme, best boat design and the Davy Jones Locker Award, which is given to students who sink in the most entertaining way.

“This project helps them realize working together is a life lesson and learn how to overcome challenges or failures,” said Tina Barton, Destin Middle School's seventh grade English teacher. “ It’s a process that good things take time to make. “

In April, students got in groups of up to four and created a cardboard boat they believe would float based on proportion and scale. They also had to make a smaller version of their boats and present it at their math class

“This event is good for teamwork and how to use their time wisely,” said Jennifer Spraggins, who was cheering on her son from the crowd. “Besides having fun, they learned how to be organized and work around their own schedule.”

Getting ready to race in their penguin-themed boat, Abigail Kline and Larissa Hernandez were giving their paddleboards a final tweak on Friday morning.

“It’s important to prioritize your time and you really need to start early and work on it every day,” said Hernandez.

Proud parent Diamond Gibson said it was a fun event and the children also got the chance to learn something from it.

“It was also enjoyable to watch our kids root on their friends,” she said.

In a team of three girls named Galaxy Gals, Gibson’s daughter, Terez McArthur, said her team learned how to manage their time and work together even when there was drama or trouble. However, she said that wasn't the most challenging part of event.

“The hardest thing was dragging (teammate) Kristine out of the water after we fell off our boat,” she said.