Winners announced from Odyssey of the Mind tourney

Student teams from Fairview Elementary and Reynolds High schools in Buncombe County and Andrews Middle School in Cherokee County came out ahead of the pack by winning two first-place awards each during the Schuncke Memorial Odyssey of the Mind Tournament held Saturday, March 3, at Western Carolina University.

Some 360 students from 32 Western North Carolina schools and organizations competed in the annual tournament, held at several locations on WCU’s campus.

Odyssey of the Mind is a national competition that promotes creative thinking, problem-solving skills and teamwork. Students worked on long-term problems in three divisions: Division I for students in grades K-five or younger than 12; Division II for grades six-eight or ages 12 through 15; and Division III for grades nine-12. Students in K-two also had the option of working on a non-competitive problem.

Awards were given to the top three finishers in each division. First- and second-place winners from the western region tournament at WCU advance to the state Odyssey of the Mind finals that will be held in Raleigh on Saturday, March 31. State winners will advance to the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals, to be held May 23-26 at Michigan State University.

The winning schools are

“Tag ‘em” – This problem required teams to design, build and run small vehicles. Division I: First, Fairview Elementary (Buncombe); second, Andrews Elementary.

“The Large and Small of It” – This problem required teams to present a performance. Division I: First, Fairview Elementary (Buncombe). Division II: First, Andrews Middle.

“Classics…Around the World in Eight Minutes” – This problem required teams to present a performance. Division I: First, North Buncombe Elementary; second, Estes Elementary; third, Fairview Elementary (Buncombe). Division II: First, Waynesville Middle; second, Reynolds Middle; third, Andrews Middle. Division III: First, Reynolds High; second, Andrews High; third, School of Inquiry and Life Sciences.

“I’m Only Thinking of You” – This problem required teams to present a performance. Division I: First, Brush Creek Elementary; second, Fairview Elementary (Buncombe); third, Pisgah Elementary. Division II: First, Andrews Middle; second, Apple Valley Middle; third, Summit Charter. Division III: First, Reynolds High; second, Carolina Day; third, Friends of Asheville/Buncombe Library.

“Out of the Box Balsa” – This problem required teams to design, build and test a structure made of balsa wood and glue. Division I: First, Estes Elementary; second, Andrews Elementary; third, Woodfin Elementary. Division II: First, Valley Springs Middle; second, Andrews Middle. Division III: First, Roberson High.

Ranatra Fusca Creativity Awards are presented at the WCU tournament each year to recognize exceptional creativity. The awards were given this year to a Reynolds High School team for its work on “I’m Only Thinking of You,” and to a individual member of that team, Carrie Harris, for her creativity on that problem.

Omer’s Awards, given to reward exceptional sportsmanship, behavior or talent, were presented to teams from Estes and Laurel elementary schools and Reynolds High.

Rick Bradner of Andrews Elementary was named Odyssey of the Mind Western Region Coach of the Year.

The tournament at WCU is named in honor of a Western faculty member, the late George M. Schuncke, who played a major role in the annual student competition on the local and state levels. WCU introduced the competition to Western North Carolina schools in 1982 and has hosted state or regional tournaments ever since. The regional tournament is sponsored by the university’s College of Education and Allied Professions, and Office for Rural Education. Barbara Parris of Sylva serves as western region tournament director.