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TJ's Odyssey to Compete in World Games

Under the coaching skills of Barbara Mullins, a local group of students has earned the right to compete at the world level in the Odyssey of the Mind competition. The team, sponsored by Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ), includes TJ students Josh Mullins, Colton O'Connor, Alfie Parthum and Robert Posacki; Chantilly High School students Erica Albrigo and Erin Baldwin; and Trent Lukaczyk of Robinson Secondary School.

Together, they competed against six teams in their division and category at the state level. A team from Massaponax High School came in first place and the TJ team came in second. Both teams will go on to World Finals, which will be held at the University of Maryland from May 28 to June 2.

The students chose "Fantastic Art" as their OM problem. Working together once a week for about five months they created a skit in which works of art come to life. The team produced four art pieces as well as a complete script, costumes, props, and a team sign. In addition to the long-term performance, at every competition each team must compete in a spontaneous challenge.

This trip to the World Finals will mark Mullins' fourth opportunity to enter a team. She has taken her daughter's team twice and four members of her son's team attended last year under her coaching.

Another amazing feat achieved by this team is their taking the Ranatra Fucsca award at the state competition for the second year in a row. This highly prized award is given to teams or individuals who demonstrate exceptional creativity and willingness to take intellectual risks.

The TJ team will continue to rehearse their skit and practice spontaneous problem solving, then spend five days together at the World competition. The main activities include competing, watching other teams perform, and trading OM pins with kids from the other 49 states and foreign countries.

The trip to Worlds, even though it is in Maryland this year, is an expensive excursion. The members of the TJ team and their parents are very grateful to American Management Systems and to the Thomas Jefferson OM Club for generously donating money to cover the cost of the trip.