Three teams from Dalton Public Schools competed in the Odyssey of the Mind tournaments. Teams from Westwood, Brookwood and Dalton Middle School competed at the regional tournament in March, and the Brookwood and DMS teams moved on to each place fourth in the state round on April 7.
At the regional tournament, Dalton Middle School took first place in their problem and division "Triathlon Travel," and Brookwood placed second in their problem and division, "Mockumentary! Seriously?" allowing them to advance to the state finals at Columbus State University in Columbus, GA. The Westwood team gave a wonderful performance in their category, "Animal House."
Georgia Odyssey of the Mind provides opportunities for children to work together to solve unusual and stimulating problems. The program philosophy is that the creativity, persistence and cooperation needed to complete Odyssey of the Mind problems will empower students to be more successful problem-solvers in their own lives and in future problem-solving situations.
Brookwood team coach Julia Cagle said it was remarkable to see the growth in the team from last year to this year. "Their solution demonstrated mature knowledge in performance and humor. They definitely wowed the judges and audiences," she said. "Odyssey is not just about problem solving and creativity, it is about team work! The girls learned a lot about this important skill and came out fourth in the state! I couldn't be more proud of them."
Two Brookwood team members, Leah Cagle and Emilee Stansell, explained how the round works. In their category, Mockumentary! Seriously?, the team had to select a classic fairy tale story from a list and present different characters in a humorous documentary-style performance where details are added, denied, exaggerated and disputed. There are interviews, behind-the-scenes clips, and voice-overs that take the audience through the story and help present the new take on the classic story.
The team selected "Alice in Wonderland" and recreated the infamous tea party scene. Each team member had a job to do – whether it be creating costumes or building the props.
Stansell said it helped that this was not the team's first time competing. "Because we did it last year, we had a few ideas to get started," she said. "We were able to practice our scene after school in front of the after school program, which helped us learn to talk loudly and be comfortable in front of an audience. We did a really good job and were proud of ourselves for placing higher than we did last year."
In Dalton Middle School's category, teams ride on and drive original vehicles in a triathlon. They try to score points in "curling," hit the right targets when "jousting," and "run track" by navigating a course in two directions. Between the events, the team entertains the audience and the vehicle changes appearance. All of this takes place in a team-created performance that features the vehicle's triathlon travels, a commentator and a coach.
Leah Cagle said the experience teaches the importance of teamwork. "Some people wanted to give up at times, but we encouraged each other to keep going. If we hadn't worked together, we wouldn't have made it to state," she said. "It's a great thing to get into because it's a lot of fun and you get to meet a lot of people and make new friends."
The girls said their favorite parts of the experience were doing an escape game to prepare, attending a spontaneous problem workshop in Atlanta and trading pins with other teams at the tournament. They are already looking forward to joining the team again next year, with hopes of making it to World's.
Members of the Dalton Middle School team were Ariana Avila, Andre Avila, Anna Elisa Crow, Ben Thorne, Spencer Hayes, Audrey Marie Merryman and Will Merryman.
Members of the Brookwood team were Leah Cagle, Rachel Edwards, Evey Heider, Emilee Stansell, Sarah Taylor and Blakely Thornton.