The two Richmond Hill High School Odyssey of the Mind teams just returned from the world finals in Michigan. The seniors team took sixth place out of 34 teams while the sophomore team took 30th out of 45 teams.
Three teams qualified, but one opted out due to financial and scheduling difficulties.
RHHS is the only Georgia school to ever have this many teams qualify for the world championship.
Participants say the experience of the trip to compete with other Odyssey competitors from all over the world was monumental.
"The World Finals was my defining moment of my senior year of high school," said Odyssey competitor and RHHS Valedictorian Alex Squires. "Everyone should have at least one chance in their lives to have that kind of experience."
Parent coach, and Alex’s mother, Debbie Squires gave similar feedback from a coach’s standpoint.
"It was the time of their lives," said Debbie. "Alex has had a wonderful string of things happen to him during his senior year and he tells me this has topped it all.
"Even the adults have had the best time," Debbie continued. "Being surrounded by this massive sea of brilliant and positive thinking kids gives me so much hope for a bright future. These kids aren’t bashful about daring to think outside the box and grabbing life by the gusto. This trip was very inspiring."On their way to their sixth place placing, Alex and his teammates faced an obstacle. Minutes before their competitive performance, they realized they forgot an important prop. They improvised and no one was the wiser.
In addition to performing their play, the world finals includes a "spontaneous" round which entailed the teams having to participate in whatever the judges requested of them on the spot.
The senior team had to build a structure and was given materials such as Q-tips, toothpicks, modeling clay and yarn. They placed well. The sophomore team did not do so well. In fact, members say it was their lack of comprehension of the judges’ instructions that was their downfall in the competition as they performed their regular play well.
Sophomore team parent coach Brad Thompson said that, for most on the team, this was their first year of Odyssey competition and making it to the world finals was a huge accomplishment. He said no one was deterred by the low placing, but rather were excited about next year.
"This was a great learning experience," said Thompson. "Everyone is psyched and ready to gain from what they learned in Michigan. The bar was raised from watching the international competition, and it was real eye opening. They’re ready to carry the torch of the senior team."
"Above all else, it was exciting," said sophomore Odyssey participant Evan Thompson. "There’s nothing quite like a world competition where everything is based on creativity."