Students and volunteers from the Blytheville Public Schools again stood out at the March 2 Northeast Regional competition of Odyssey of the Mind in Pocahontas. When the state OM competition at Beebe begins in approximately four weeks, Blytheville will be a big part of that event too.
Six teams from the Blytheville Schools participated at the regional competitive level, and Blytheville High School, Blytheville Intermediate School and Central Elementary School (five of six teams) will advance to the April 13 state level. The top four teams in each division qualified for the state event. Blytheville had one first-place win, two second-place wins and two third-places. One team placed fifth in its division.
"We all had a great Odyssey of the Mind experience in Pocahontas, and now we're excited to be going on to a great state competition," said Diane Hay, Blytheville's Gifted and Talented administrator, which includes Odyssey of the Mind. "Our schools are very fortunate to have so much community support from individuals who serve as coaches and judges, and I'm delighted that the ones who served as judges in the regional will fill those same roles for the state competition."
The BHS team, coached by Russell Page and Erika Easley, placed third in the Division III "It's How You Look At It." Team members are Lauren Jenkins, Megan Jenkins, Madison Groves, Katie Beth Pankey, Esbian Williams, Zac Mosley and Dawn Anderson.
The Central Elementary team coached by Curtis Walker finished first in the Division I "Tumble-Wood Structure." Members are Treaauwan Hooper, Bailee McCustion, Kate Hale, Elise Harris, Tatianna Harris, Grant Langston and Dylan Buckner.
A second Central team this year, "It's How You Look At It," coached by Toyia Taylor, finished second. This was Taylor's first year as a competing coach. Her team members include Rushanti Taylor, Jeffery Cable, Brandon Gascoigne, Kenniya Thomas, Shakeyiah Fountain, Rushawn Taylor and Kylan Rogers.
The Intermediate School team coached by Charlee Predmore and LaRay Cloud took second place in Division II "Tumble-Wood Structure." Team members included Bo Hale, Braidon Smith, Kensie Ray, Afrika Wells, Terika Dillard, Garrett Cloud and Jackson Howard.
Blytheville Intermediate School had three teams compete this year. The "It's How You Look At It" team placed fifth and was coached by Dena Cathey and Candace Jolly. The team came within four points of advancing to the state level. Team members include Delania Cook, Cleotha Bell Jr., Alexus Nichols, Robert Real, Dondray Robinson, Laurissa Campbell and Juanita Wimbley.
The third Intermediate team placed second in its division. Its problem was "ARTchitecture, The Musical." The team was coached by Sarah Henricks, and members include Julia Bullard, Maddie Hixson, Lizzy Langston, Zac White, Shakiah Williams and Lauren Cable.
First through fourth places advanced to the state finals to be held in Beebe, AR, on April 13.
Blytheville was fortunate to have a special team this year in a non-competitive category, "Top Sea-cret Discoveries." This team participated for the first time in this category. Also, the team participated in the Spontaneous portion of the competition, giving them a full competition experience. While the scores were not competitive, the team still received high marks and the judges loved its comedy performance.
"We are so proud of these students," said Hay. "My hope is that they move on to compete for real next year."
The Primary team was coached by Sheila Brown and the team members were Caleb Brown, Shantaria Parks, Cameron Williams, Floyd Williams, Rohan Aleti and Sameer Mittal. Each participant was given a medal.
It is necessary to have volunteers serve as judges from each membership to make the regional and state competitions a success.
"This year, the school district was required to provide six judges/volunteers for the competition, although our school usually sends more than the required amount of volunteers," Hay continued. Local citizens who judged at the regional level and will also work at the state event are Hay, Delora Dillon, Paige Hawks, Lou Riggs, Shannon Page, Sandra Jackson, Daniel Harris, Rae Galbraith, Eddie Hobbs and Andrea Jackson.
"The teams from Blytheville have always shown the best manners during the competitions," Hay said. "We usually take the students to a local restaurant on the way home from the competition, and they never cease to amaze me with their politeness and appreciation for what we do for them. I enjoy all the 'thank you, Mrs. Hay's' that I get from my students for whatever we do for them. The kids really appreciate these opportunities."
The OM boosters thank everyone who helped to make the regional competition a big success by volunteering their time and efforts to the organization. The district is always in need of volunteers as coaches and judges each year. Hay said the program depends heavily on volunteers to work with these students, and training is available for those who are interested. More information on the OM program may be found at www.odysseyofthemind.com and www.ciarkansas.org.
The school district is accepting donations for its World Finals Booster Club, and much appreciation is expressed to GCA Services Group for its contribution to help the teams travel to the World Finals. Donations may be sent to Diane Hay at the Blytheville Middle School, 700 W. Chickasawba, Blytheville, AR 72315. All donations are tax-deductible.
"Please consider helping us help our kids realize their dreams of competing on such a grand level against many other teams from all over the world," Hay said.
Photos of this year's teams can be found on Page 16 of today's Courier News.