On Saturday, April 6, 2013, a group of students from Thomas County Central High School traveled to Odyssey of the Mind State Competition at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia. They placed 2nd in the State in their division, which means they will advance to compete at World Finals May 22-May25, 2013, at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. The group will compete with the top teams from across the United States and 25 other countries.
The students who will be competing at World Finals are Addison Frasch (10th grade), Lexi George (10th grade), Mallorie Johnson (10th grade), Chelcie Nix (9th grade), and Katie Simmons (9th grade). They also placed 3rd in “Banner” at State. These students are coached by Kimsey Hodge and Tammy Simmons.
The problem that the team had to solve was called "The Email Must Go Through." The team's problem is to create and present an original performance that includes a technical representation of messages being sent by email. A Sender character will send three emails: one that requires a return receipt, one with a work of art as an attachment, and one that goes through a SPAM filter. Two of the emails will go to a Receiver character and another will go to an offbeat location. Each email will pass through a central server before reaching its final destination. Team members are not allowed to touch the emails while the server is processing the messages. The TCCHS team solved this problem by creating a skit around four Disney princesses and a cheating Prince Charming. The email server was a handmade pumpkin that delivered the emails to each of the girls, except when one princess received the wrong email and the Prince is found out.
Coach Kimsey Hodge calls this team the “Cinderella Team.” Not only because there is a “Cinderella” character in their solution to their long-term problem, but also because the team has had to overcome much adversity. “Their team had a late start in the beginning to solve their long term problem and had issues getting a team formed. But they got started, overcame other hurdles, and have worked very hard.” Coach Tammy Simmons could not be more proud of the team and says this team of students has taught her so much, along with the other students who have competed but did not make it to State Competition or World Finals. Simmons says, “This is the first year that Thomas County Central has had an Odyssey of the Mind (OM) program and I really had no idea what to expect. Ms. Hodge had previous experience as a parent of an OM student and had to help me understand what it was all about. Seeing these students work through their solutions and practice being spontaneous has been a joy to watch.”
Odyssey of the Mind requires that students solve their problem without any assistance from teachers or parents and is the ultimate competition in creativity. It involves every academic subject area. Students use language arts to write their scripts, develop characters, act out the solution, and may formulate ideas based on literature they have studied. They use math skills in a number of ways, including but not limited to measuring and calculating angles on their sets and props; depending on which problem they chose to solve, they may use math entirely to solve the problem. Science and technology are used to formulate hypotheses and to experiment with different ideas that may solve a problem; with some problem choices, they MUST use technology and science solely to solve their problem. Students also use social studies by studying and referencing history, politics, pop culture, etc, to solve their problems. In addition, all problems involve the fine arts of drawing, painting and acting. For some problems music and dance are a required element. Hodge says, "It is just amazing to watch students come out of their shells during the problem solving process."