Special to The Courier News

Students and volunteers from the Blytheville School District again stood out at the March 3 Northeast Regional competition of Odyssey of the Mind in Pocahontas. Three teams represented the district this year, and two will move on to the state competition April 7 in in Springdale.  

The structure problem this year was “Animal House.” Over the years Odyssey of the Mind teams have designed structures that changed into many unbelievable shapes and sizes that balanced and held as much weight as possible. This year teams will turn their balsa wood structures into animals. Since animals need to “eat”, they must be “fed”. The structure will have its appearance transformed and explained during an original performance, and during the performance the structure must hold the team-created food while it supports weights.

Our Animal House teams consist of the following: Division I (coaches Curtis Walker, Sr., and Curtis Walker, Jr.) McKinley Walker, Ryley Walker, Tyrone Davis, Elliana Davis, Ryanne Davis, Haden Cornwell and Marley Rand.

Div. III (coaches Amy Louise Gullic, David Gullic and Susannah King) Gatsby Langston-Brown, Wills Gullic, Shamari Cooper, Jasmine Johnson, Diamond Henry, Connor Frazier and Jacob Pruett.

We had one elementary team that competed for the first time this year. They were very nervous about the unknown but managed to place an impressive fifth place in the competition. Their problem was named “A Stellar Hangout.” In the outreaches of the universe, there is an Intergalactic “Hangout” where all sorts of creatures from different worlds stop, eat, refuel and relax. Teams were to create a humorous performance centered on this science fiction hangout that included original creatures, foods and a search for space treasure. There was also a worker character, entertainment and a futuristic map at the hangout.

Our “A Stellar Hangout” team included Division I (coaches Megan Trucks and Crystal Vincent) Emmaly Allen, Steffond Blankenship, Trynyty Brown, Rezo Jefferson, Markia Lea, Rico Moore and Jace Vincent.

“While this team did not place in the top four to advance to state competition, let me say that I have never seen a first-time competing team perform the way this team performed,” Hay stated. “They were confident, projected their voice, and their acting skills and comedy were outstanding. They actually placed third in the solution portion of the competition. Other teams outscored them in spontaneous and style, leaving them a bit short of the fourth place win that would have allowed them to move to the state competition. The coaches were new as well, and they did an outstanding job of coaching this team. I couldn’t be more proud of a team than I was while watching their performance.”

Our volunteer judges for this year are Paige Hawks, Ashley Whitley, Rae Galbraith, Charles Hobbs, Deborah Patterson and Lou Riggs. We really appreciate these volunteers, because without them our teams would not be able to compete. We need all the volunteers we can get each year.

Our most important need is volunteer coaches!! So many of our students aren’t able to compete because we can’t find enough adults to volunteer to coach them. It’s not hard to be a coach. There is a one-day training available (not mandatory), and the students will do the work as you simply act as their guide and “go for” person.  It’s a great opportunity to show school and community support.

I want to say “thank you” to our volunteers this year; they are doing an excellent job. I would also invite you, our community, to visit the Springdale school campus April 7 to watch and support our teams/competitions. To learn more about our program please visit these websites: and  

To our school district staff and board members: Please consider taking a small part of your Saturday to see for yourself what a great program we have here in Blytheville by visiting the Springdale campus to watch our students compete. Springdale is a long way from here, but you could also stop in on one of their practice sessions to see what they are doing, as well. They work so hard to make us all so proud. The competition is free to watch, and I promise you will enjoy seeing these teams at their best. You will be impressed by their sportsmanship, manners, drive, teamwork and many other attributes taught to them through Odyssey of the Mind.  There will also be opportunities for you to see them at one of our civic club meetings and during our Family Night performance. For any questions about the competition or program, contact Diane Hay at the Blytheville School District, 870-762-2983.

span class="Apple-converted-space">  Please consider helping us help our kids realize their dreams of competing on such a grand level against many other teams from all over the world. The students stay in dorm style housing on campus at the World Finals and travel by charter bus to compete each year.