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Parkway Team Places 3rd in State Odyssey of the Mind Competition PDF Print
Written by Steve Frank   
Monday, 18 April 2011 13:24

Parkway School’s seventh grade Odyssey of the Mind team took third place in the state in the middle school division of the Odyssey of the Mind tournament held in Asheville earlier this month.  Parkway’s team consists of Hannah Dallas, Max Schlenker, Shelby Reagan, Cole Funk, Mary Seramur, Alex Mancini, and Jonathan Gragg, and the team was coached by Parkway parent Lynn Schlenker. Parkway advanced to the state finals on the strength of a second place finish in the Northern Region tournament March 5th.   The Northern Region covers 19 counties in North Carolina, including such relatively populous counties as Guilford and Forsyth.    A total of 53 teams from across the state took part in the five regional competitions but only 12 teams advanced to the state finals. 
Coach Schlenker said the team’s success “is a huge achievement as the great majority of the teams that advance to state finals are from magnet schools, International Baccalaureate schools, or private schools that have OM as part of their curriculum.  The fact that these kids rank high among those schools is a tribute to their talent and dedication, and of course to our great school system. They represented WCS well.”  Schlenker praised the hard work of the Parkway team saying they “put in countless hours” – including many snow days - preparing for Odyssey of the Mind competition.
Odyssey of the Mind is a program in which teams compete to design and implement an original solution to a challenging problem in one of five categories.  Achieving a successful solution requires the students on each team to demonstrate a combination of creativity, effective communication, and collaboration.  The five categories of problems used in Odyssey of the Mind include mechanical/vehicle, technical performance, classics, structure, and performance.  The Parkway team worked on a problem entitled Le Tour Guide from the performance category.
In Le Tour Guide, teams were challenged to create and present an original performance in which a classical character acts as a tour guide.  During the tour, an inanimate object shows signs of life, the tour guide will give the wrong explanation about something, and a creative explanation will be offered about why it is important to guard and secure an item that is actually worthless.
Teams are given scores in three components in Odyssey of the Mind tournaments: up to 200 points for their performance on the long term component, which is the problem for which they prepare well ahead of time; up to 100 points in the spontaneous component, where a solution to a problem must be devised on the spot; and up to 50 “style” points.  The winner is determined by the cumulative point total for all three components.
Odyssey of the Mind originated 29 years ago in industrial design classes taught by Dr. Sam Micklus, a professor at Rowan University in New Jersey.  It is now a worldwide competition with separate divisions for grades K-5, 6-8, 9-12, and collegiate teams.
Schlenker said it would be great to have more Odyssey of the Mind teams in the Watauga County Schools and encourages parents interested in learning more about the program to contact her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  Additional information about the program is available online at

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