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V'land students bound for Odyssey state finals

By KRISTI FUNDERBURK * Staff Writer * March 23, 2009

VINELAND -- A local team will represent the city in the Odyssey of the Mind state competition next month.

Vineland High School sent two teams to the regional competition Saturday.

One scored high enough to earn third place and a trip to the April 25 state competition in Ewing, team coach Sheryl Rasmussen said Sunday. It was the team's first step in an effort to represent the state in the 2009 World Finals, which begins May 27 in Iowa. A second team placed fourth in the regional competition held but will not advance to the state finals.

Odyssey of the Mind is an international competition that challenges students to use their problem-solving skills.

"I'm very happy with the performance, and I know they'll grow from here," said Rasmussen, the Odyssey club adviser and a technology teacher in the School of Mathematics, Science and Engineering at VHS.

Sophomore Cori Rose Schroer said the win was especially exciting be-cause the mostly freshman and sophomore team is fairly new to Odyssey of the Mind competitions.

"It was a very difficult thing going to this competition since no one on our team had been to Odyssey before, at least since elementary school," she said.

Each team dedicates months to solving one of five competition problems. The students must incorporate their own skills and interests to solve the problem, Rasmussen said.

The advancing team chose "Earth Trek" and had to design and build a small vehicle that could visit four locations and change appearance each time.

The other VHS team had to create and present an original performance about the ancient Greek hero Heracles.

Teams earn points for their prepared solution, a spontaneous problem they can't prepare for, and style, Rasmussen said.

In Rasmussen's past several years as Vineland's Odyssey adviser, about 50 percent of the school's teams have done well enough to go to states.

Though both her teams won't proceed, Rasmussen was pleased with their efforts.

"I'm really, very happy," she said. "They did finish and they did get to compete, which some teams don't do."

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