South Charlotte

Providence High students second at Odyssey World Finals

Providence High School Team Black in costume. Team Black placed second for Problem 5 in Division III at the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals in May. Team Black members are, from left, Sam Miano, Erica Hennes, James Rucker, Bryson Getz, Andrew Yount, Valerie Keithly and Meredith Gaines.
Providence High School Team Black in costume. Team Black placed second for Problem 5 in Division III at the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals in May. Team Black members are, from left, Sam Miano, Erica Hennes, James Rucker, Bryson Getz, Andrew Yount, Valerie Keithly and Meredith Gaines. COURTESY OF WENDY HENNES

Providence High School’s Team Black competed in two of the five problems presented at the Odyssey of the Mind 2015 World Finals at Michigan State University in May, coming home with a second-place medal for Problem 5.

“Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college,” wrote Wendy Hennes in an email. Hennes is the mother of Team Black member Erica Hennes.

“Odyssey of the Mind is a program that challenges students to approach problems in extraordinary ways, fostering creativity and self-expression,” said Erica Hennes.

According to Wendy Hennes, more than 840 teams from 34 U.S. states and 17 countries competed through five different problems in the elementary, middle, high school and college divisions.

To qualify for the World Finals, teams first must compete at the regional level, where they “face teams from six counties surrounding Charlotte,” wrote Erica Hennes, who has been involved with Odyssey since sixth grade.

The top two teams in each problem and division then advance to the state finals, and the top two teams in each problem and division from there go to the World Finals.

For Problem 5 in Division III, Team Black competed against 55 other teams from 22 U.S. states and eight countries, including Singapore, China and India, according to Team Black coach Deanna Keithly.

The members of Team Black who competed in Problem 5 were senior Valerie Keithly, 18; senior Erica Hennes, 18; senior Andrew Yount, 19; senior Meredith Gaines, 19; junior Sam Miano, 17; sophomore James Rucker, 16; and sophomore Bryson Getz, 16.

Rucker said the team’s second place was one of the greatest accomplishments in his life thus far.

In an email, Rucker wrote that he took part in Odyssey of the Mind because it allows participants “to think critically, create and truly learn how to be a creative individual.”

“I first did OM in first grade and loved it,” Rucker wrote. “My middle school did not offer the program but I rejoined in high school and fell in love all over again. OM has truly been a growing experience.”

For Problem 5, called “Silent Movie,” the teams performed a skit depicting the character of a director who produces and presents a silent movie featuring a humorous villain who commits three silly acts of wrongdoing.

Team Black’s skit cleverly wove the requirements together with characters named for candies such as Jolly the Rancher and Mike and Ike, as well as Greek-mythology-inspired names such as Hermes, the messenger of the gods, and the villainous Furies.

“My Odyssey of the Mind team means everything to me, and I couldn’t be prouder of us,” Erica Hennes said. “In my last year of competing, it feels absolutely amazing to walk away from World Finals ranked second in the world and first in the U.S.”

Team Black also came home with a 14th-place finish for Problem 2.

Marissa Brooks is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marissa? Email her at mbrookspt@earthlink.net

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