CRESTVIEW — Crestview High School and Davidson Middle School students are heading to the state’s April 6 Odyssey of the Mind competition at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.
The problem-solving team includes ChiantéPeacock, Coleman Young, Quinn Stegner, Ethan Mitchell and Jacob Cyrus, of Davidson, and Jacob's brother, Josh, and David Ness, of Crestview High.
In the Odyssey of the Mind program — available to kindergarten through college students at participating schools — speed matters.
"It is a competition for creative minds (that) includes solving problems as quick as possible," Stegner, 13, said.
The team next month must perform a timed, humorous skit in which two characters acting otherwise normal seem odd to passersby.
Students are responsible for writing the script, designing costumes, creating the set and performing the material.
Team members have trained their improvisational skills to handle spontaneous situations.
"It truly helps them to think quick on their feet," coach Eric Mitchell said.
Motivating the team
Competing at the state level is nothing new for the team, Mitchell said.
"Half of the students will be returning to state from last year," he said.
Although the group had no competitor in the regional division, Mitchell had to keep his team focused because lack of a competitor, as he knew, wouldn’t guarantee qualification for the state competition. To do this, he told team members they were competing against Tate High School in Escambia County.
"The day before the (regional) competition, he was like, 'Hey, there is no Tate,’" Peacock, 13, said.
Students said they take away something special from their time in Odyssey of the Mind.
"I feel like I am more creative when it comes to problems," Peacock said. "It helps you make quicker decisions."
"It helps your writing and (you can) generate more ideas," Stegner said.
Mitchell said he plans to continue coaching the team as current members move up to Crestview High School. He also encourages area schools to form OM teams if they haven’t done so already.
"We know there is student interest in this," he said. "Our problem is that we are capped at seven (student members). We could create more teams, but we would need more coaches.”
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.