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Creativity takes Parkwood students to the top

AMANDA HICKEY
DAILY NEWS STAFF

The Parkwood Elementary School Pandas are making history for Onslow County Schools.

The school's Odyssey of the Mind team will be the county's first to attend the Odyssey of the Mind world competition.

"I felt like I was going to cry when they called Parkwood to go on to World," team member Kaitlin Coogan, 9, said.

Keenan Chaucer, 11, is also excited about advancing in the competition.

"It feels good knowing you're going to World after you put so much time into it," he said.

Team members James Yang, 9, and Hannah Yang, 10, are looking forward to the next leg of the competition.

"I don't think we'd get this far, I had high hopes but I really didn't think we'd get this far," Hannah said.

Her brother, however, didn't share her hopes.

"I feel pretty excited and joyful," James said. "I thought we'd just get past regionals."

For Gage Eason, 10, the idea of attending the competition is not only exciting, but eye opening.

"When it's your first time going, you feel like it's your first time for everything," he said.

The world competition will be held May 31 through June 3 at the University of Maryland in College Park.

The team members and their families will stay in the university's dorms during the length of the competition with teams from across the country and throughout the world, Coach Elizabeth McCallister said.

"It is hands-on kids, hands-off adults because we just facilitate them," McCallister said of the competition. "We practice creative problem solving. You'd be surprised what they can do with an index card."

Through the program the students learn a variety of skills, including team building, cooperation, creativity, open-mindedness and problem solving.

"It's neat to see them bounce off each other with ideas. ... Then they come up with how to do it together," coach Lynn Gaddy said.

The world competition will have more than 800 participants from elementary schools to college age, McCallister said.

"It's something that's fun and everybody wins," she said. "Just going and competing is an accomplishment."

The team is receiving support from the Onslow County Schools and the Onslow County Board of Education, McCallister said.

"The county office has been very gracious," she said.

The students' room and board is paid for; the students' family members who come on the trip will be paying their own way, McCallister said. But she said extra help is also necessary so the students will be able to visit local aquariums and museums while they're at the competition.

"It's for the incidental-type stuff," McCallister said. "If any businesses want to sponsor our Odyssey of the Mind team and family members, they can contact Parkwood Elementary."

Contact Parkwood Elementary at 910-347-6711. For more information on the program, visit www.odysseyofthemind.com


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