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Quaker Valley Odyssey of the Mind team heads to world finals

| Wednesday, April 20, 2016, 2:27 p.m.

Five Quaker Valley High School juniors will take their problem-solving techniques with them to Iowa to compete in the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals next month.

“Most of the members have been doing Odyssey of the Mind since the third grade with the dream of making it to the World Competition – and they did,” volunteer coach Linda Diamond said.

The team is made up of Kaylyn Hicks, Emma Szuba, Sam Baycer, Parker Redcross and Desi Durbin.

It's the first time since 1996 a Quaker Valley High School team will compete at the world finals.

Odyssey of the Mind is a competition designed to encourage students to think through unique problem-solving techniques. The competition poses open-ended questions appealing to students with a wide array of interests, creating challenges that are solved through creative thinking.

In addition to advancing to the world finals, the team won the Ranatra Fusca Award at a regional tournament this year. This is the highest award given for creativity, and has not been given to a Quaker Valley team since 2009.

Team member Parker Redcross first heard about Odyssey of the Mind as a third-grader.

“Odyssey of the Mind was presented in front of the class,” he said. “It sounded exciting and the presentation encouraged us to participate. In this competition, where you created unexpected solutions to problems, I was interested because I like that sort of challenge.”

Emma Szuba said she was asked to be on the team in the seventh grade.

“I happened to be friends with some of the other students on the team,” she said. “The idea sounded exciting, so I asked questions and heard a lot about it. I didn't think I was the creative problem-solving, artsy or performance type of person, however, the experience brought out all those things in me.”

Diamond said she is extremely proud of their accomplishments.

“They are such a great group of kids,” she said. “Their hard work is paying off.”

Christina Sheleheda is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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