| The Watauga Democrat |
Two area schools advance to Odyssey state finals

By Melanie Davis Marshall
Teams from Valle Crucis and Parkway schools brought home second-place honors at the recent regional Odyssey of the Mind competition in Greensboro and earned a place in the state competition on Saturday.

Odyssey of the Mind is a worldwide creative problem-solving program where teams of seven students choose a problem, find a solution and present their solution in competition.

The problems vary from building a structure out of balsa wood to support a great weight, to building a vehicle that will complete a list of tasks, to a performance solving problems from classics or any other realm of daily life.

The Parkway Elementary team -- all fifth graders -- competed at the division I level (elementary) and the Valle Crucis Elementary team competed at the division II level (middle school). Both teams chose an option that allows each to solve problems using skit performances.

The Parkway team, consisting of Hannah Dallas, Cole Funk, Jonathan Gragg, Alex Mancini, Shelby Reagan, Max Schlenker, and Mary Seramur, wrote and performed a play about superstitions.

Connor Brodt, Brandy Hicks, Brennan Brodt, Caleb Vance, James Files, Evelyn Webb and Ray Black competed for Valle Crucis by performing a play titled "The Labors of Heracles."

Both teams wrote, directed, choreographed and built scenes for their performances.

The Valle Crucis team depicts one of the 12 of Heracles' mythical labors as well as a labor he might have performed and how it might have been lost to history.

The Parkway team's performance shows how people create superstitions to explain natural phenomena.

In addition to the performances, both teams will compete in a spontaneous problem-solving competition in which the team must solve a problem without prior knowledge and without the help of adults.

Both teams advanced to the state finals to be held Saturday at Wingate College in Monroe.

In addition to their competition, members of the Parkway team also held a fund-raiser on March 6 selling donuts and apples. The team raised $325 and donated 20 dozen donuts to the Hunger and Health Coalition.

"All the parents and coaches were so excited for the team that we jumped out of our seats! The students worked so hard on their performance and we couldn't be more proud of them. The opportunity to compete at the State Finals is a super accomplishment for this team's first year with Odyssey of the Mind," Lynn Schlenker said. Schlenker, along with Tracy Funk, serve as the Parkway team coaches.

Rosemary Webb and Paige Taylor serve as the Valle Crucis team coaches.

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