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Rockford sends five teams to world competition

Jeannie Gregory
An unprecedented five Rockford teams have qualified for the prestigious 30th annual Odyssey of the Mind 2009 World Finals competition. The finals are scheduled for May 27-30 in Ames, Iowa at Iowa State University.

Rockford sent 12 teams to the state competition on April 18 and five qualified for the world competition. Rockford will be represented at worlds at all levels with teams from Rockford High School, North Rockford Middle School, and teams from Crestwood and Valley View Elementaries vying for a world title. Valley View Elementary boasts two teams on the roster for the world competition.

Odyssey of the Mind Coordinator Linda Blackmore is thrilled with all the accomplishments. "This is the most teams Rockford has ever sent to worlds," said Blackmore. "This is also a point of pride because only 15 teams are moving on from the entire state of Michigan and we have one-third of them."

Blackmore has always been a huge proponent of the Odyssey program and is so proud of all the students who have competed throughout the years. She feels that this year's accomplishment is the culmination of years of dedication and hard work of all students who have competed in the program.

And it does take dedication.

The Valley View Elementary team of Kelly Hoffman and Sharon Anderson put in an amazing amount of hours to accomplish worlds. According to coach Sharon Anderson, the team began last September meeting once a week. As the competition neared at the end of winter, the team was meeting four or five times a week to be prepared for the highly competitive contest.

This is the third year that Hoffman and Anderson have joined forces in the Odyssey competition. According to Anderson, she had a good feeling that the seven kids were going to do well this year. The team was in the Division II Superstition competition.

"Their script was solid and made sense," she said. "They put lots and lots of work into it. On the spontaneous end of it the more experience they get on it the better they get."

The Odyssey of the Mind competition gives each team a "problem" to solve, which includes certain elements, and it is the team's job to creatively show their solution. Each problem has a theme and to keep it fair there is a limit to the amount of money a team can use on props. Creativity is a huge boon to teams in the competition.

The Valley View team's script involved a farmer (Logan Anderson) who trips over his shoe and his cow (Grant Hoffman) loses his moo. In researching how to get the "moo" back, Hoffman walks under a ladder made of Pringle cans that transform into a shelving unit inside the farmhouse. Elvis shows up at one point, along with a two-headed dream monster. The silly story is told by an ear of corn.

Obviously, the sky is the limit when it comes to creativity and this teaches the participants to utilize their imaginations, creativity and to "think outside the box."

The other teams' skits were just as creative. The Crestwood Elementary team set their performance in a video game in ancient Greek times. The other Valley View Elementary team used a twist on Hercules and their performance took place in a hair salon, complete with an eight-headed hydra dryer, "afro"dite and a sassy narrator. The NRMS team's performance takes place within a mood ring and the high school team recreates a giant pop-up book, with, according to Blackmore, "knock-your-socks off acting and set design." The skit takes the audience racing through the space light spectrum on a light wave.

Anderson remembers the announcement that her team was moving on with fondness.

"I was thrilled for them," she said. "The kids were really surprised. I was so happy for them that all the hard work paid off."

And that hard work will continue for the next month as the five teams prepare for the world finals.

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