By DIANE HAY
Special to the Courier News
Four teams from the Blytheville School District participated at the competitive level at the state Odyssey of the Mind competition on April 2 at Arkansas State University’s campus at Beebe. Of those four teams, squads from Blytheville High/Middle School and Blytheville Elementary School will advance to the World Finals in May. The top two teams in each state division qualified for World Finals, and the Blytheville district accounted for two second-place wins.
“We all had a wonderful experience in Beebe, and now we are so excited to compete on the national level against as many as 800 teams from around the world,” said Diane Hay, Blytheville’s GT administrator, which includes OM. “Our schools are very fortunate to have so much community and parent support from individuals who serve as coaches and judges, and I am grateful to have these that judged at our state level: Paige Hawks, Ashley Whitley, Shannon Page, Rae Galbraith, Eddie Hobbs and Russell Page.”
The 37th Odyssey of the Mind World Finals will be May 25-28 at the Iowa State University campus in Ames. The competition emphasizes creativity and teamwork, and has grown into the largest international creative problem-solving competition worldwide. Millions of kids have been working hard all year perfecting their solutions to OM problems and competing within their regions and states, but only a few will advance to World Finals. These teams represent the best of the best creative minds.
Of course, two of Blytheville’s teams were unable to obtain a spot for the World Finals, but I want to congratulate them because they worked so hard and performed so well. “There was stiff competition this year, but we must be doing something right here in Blytheville,” stated Hay.
The BMS team was coached by Allison Hampton and Brittany Nettles, and its category was “Furs, Fins, Feathers & Fins.” Team members included Justin Braylock, Charlie Groves, Ty’Asia King, Olivia Miller, Taylor Sanders and Lexus Wilson. Another BMS team coached by Carlony Lewis and Justin Palmore in the same division and problem included Pryce Foyt, Tyler Landry, Remington Pankey, Mariah Pirtle, Courtney Gann, Demetrius Goings and Tyrone Dodd.
While the competition was fierce, there was also a feeling of camaraderie among competitors. Many students form life-long friendships that span the globe. At World Finals, teams have the chance to learn about other cultures through a common goal ... to be as creative as possible.
The BHS team coached by Toyia Taylor which actually had mostly BMS team students placed second in the Division III “No Cycle, Recycle”. Team members are Conner Frazier, Bailee McCustion, Rusahnti Taylor, Grant Langston, Lizzie Langston, Ky’lan Rogers and Rushawn Taylor.
The Blytheville Elementary team coached by Curtis Walker, Sr., and Curt Walker, Jr., finished second in Division I “Stack Attack”. Members of that team are Ryley Walker, Wills Gullic, Jayla Ransom, McKinley Walker, Whodini Sing, Zoe Hearty and Gatsby Brown.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what these two teams can do in Iowa now that they see what it’s all about,” said Hay.
The Odyssey of the Mind Boosters thank everyone who helped to make the state competition a big success by volunteering their time and efforts to our organization. We are always in need of volunteers as coaches and judges each year. Our program heavily depends on volunteers to work with these students, and training is available for those who are interested. Further information on the Odyssey of the Mind program may be found at www.odysseyofthemind.com and www.arkansasom.org.
We are taking donations for our World Finals Booster Club, and donations may be sent to Diane Hay at Blytheville Middle School, 700 West Chickasawba, Blytheville, AR 72315. All donations are tax-deductible.
“We will be at Mayfest with our dunking booth,” Hay added. “Please come by our booth and support us in our efforts to raise funds for room, board and transportation to World Finals. Thanks again for all your support.”