Richmond Hill High School took the ‘world’ by storm this year.
The RHHS Odyssey of the Mind Dinostories team competed in the OTM World Finals at the University of Maryland in June and placed 11th out of 54 teams.
OTM Dinostories Captain Matt Cordle said teams are also recognized for how they place in three major categories: spontaneous improvisation, project style and long term performance.
"We placed 6th in long term this year, out of the 54 teams," Cordle said, noting last year, they placed 30-something out of 45 teams. "Performance-wise, we had been working on this since September. Overall, we saw a huge improvement; 11th place is extremely good."
Cordle said this year’s team performance was a "vast improvement."
"This year we really focused on the technical stuff," he said. "We scored nearly perfectly on the technical aspect of our problem. Some other things lowered us, like our model and creature’s costume – just small deductions on a couple things. We were only 20 points behind the highest team."
James Slack, the team’s art captain, said every teammate brought something important to the table.
"Each of us had different talents and that’s what brought it all together, we worked together and independently throughout the year," Slack said. "What I like about this club is that it engages you on every level. You not only have to be proficient, but you have to be able to think on the fly for the skits, or be able to come up with an alternative plan if something breaks. You need to be a well rounded."
Slack said he hopes to start an OTM team next year while he starts college and at RHHS, Cordle said they’ve already got teammates signed up to start working this summer.
"We’re registering for the paperwork this week and we’ve started some of the set building. It’s a full, year-round project. That’s what I like about it more than other clubs," Cordle said, noting set work over the summer will help a lot. "This is in-depth, with active participation and a full-time commitment. The best part about it is that everything is original. You start from scratch and run with it."
Slack and Cordle both said the script and set changed many times.
"It continuously evolved," Cordle said. "From the beginning to the final product, you wouldn’t even know it was the same project."
Cordle said he hopes to achieve first place next year.
"Last year, we put in more time than other teams we talked to. And even then, we didn’t do what was necessary to achieve a top place," he said. "This year, we worked our hardest to get as close as possible. To get first place, it takes 100 percent involvement from everyone. Next year, I think we have a good shot at it."
The trip also marked the first ever school-sponsored, out-of-state field trip for Bryan County. RHHS provided the team with approximately $6,000 to pay for meals, registration fees and lodging.
Mark Linsky, RHHS French teacher and OTM advisor, said the competition was "incredible."
"Our team did a great job. I saw so much growth in them over the year," he said. "We are so thankful for the support that we received from our school system, our principal and the community. I have never seen such dedicated support from the OTMers’ parents and family. Without their time and effort, this ‘odyssey’ would not have happened."
The Dinostories team also included Michael Butler, John Kreutz, Alex Landry and Lindsey Sheffield.