04/19/04 — Spring Creek finishes second in state Odyssey of the Mind

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Spring Creek finishes second in state Odyssey of the Mind

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 19, 2004 1:57 PM

Spring Creek Elementary School's Odyssey of the Mind team won second place in the state competition over the weekend and advances to the World Finals next month.

The state event was held on Saturday at Appalachian State University, with 120 teams participating. Spring Creek's seven-member team competed against nine other teams in its division, in the classic problem "Fantastic Art."

Teacher and coach Karen Barkhurst said the group had to solve a problem in eight minutes or less. Students had to build their own sets, make their own costumes and bring art to life.

Odyssey of the Mind is a worldwide academic competition that focuses on creative thinking and problem-solving. In addition to such areas as creativity and style, teams are judged in the category of "spontaneous," requiring them to think on their feet and improvise on the spot.

First- and second-place teams for each state are invited to the World Finals, to be held this year at the University of Maryland at College Park on May 29 through June 1.

Ms. Barkhurst said that 700 teams from around the globe are expected. Her group will compete against more than 50 teams.

"It's a huge event," she said, "picture the Olympics with young people."

Ms. Barkhurst and the school have had an illustrious history with the program for the past eight years.

She has taken seven teams to the state finals and has placed at the state level four times. Last year, Spring Creek placed first in its category at the World Finals in Boulder, Colo.

This year's team is made up of fifth grade students Miranda Hill, Kent Jernigan, Ethan Potter, Garrett Lewis, Starling Krentz, Jeff Cebe, and Mallory Frederick. Assistant coach is Helen Jernigan.

Odyssey of the Mind has competitions from the elementary grades, starting at second grade, through high school, college and the military.

"It's a wonderful program that develops creativity, teamwork and problem-solving, which are all lifelong skills," Ms. Barkhurst said. "Our school is very supportive and our county is, too."

Principal Charles Ivey said the school is proud of its Odyssey program and the work Ms. Barkhurst has done with it over the years.

"They have done an outstanding job," he said. "They've put in a lot of hours and preparation.

"The staff and the student body supports them as they go on to compete at the World Finals."

Ms. Barkhurst said that in addition to preparing the team for its next competition, several fund-raisers will be needed to help defray expenses for the trip.

"It costs quite a bit of money to go to the world event," she said. "Registration alone is $2,500 and it's due in a couple of weeks."

She said she will be seeking support from businesses and private donations to help support the group's efforts.