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GBW Goes to World Finals

Wins state-level Odyssey of the Mind competition.

A team from Greenbriar West Elementary School won first place in the state championship Odyssey of the Mind competition on April 8 in Newport News, Va. The team is now off to the World Finals, to be held at the Iowa State University in Ames from May 24-27. Another team from GBW placed fourth in the state competition.

Odyssey of the Mind is a program that fosters creative and problem-solving skills and team management qualities. Every year, starting in the fall, seven-member teams meet to work on a selected problem for a few weeks, then produce their results at a Regional Tournament. This year, the Region 13 Nova West Tournament was hosted by Falls Church High School. Greenbriar West Elementary had an astounding seven teams participate in it, and two of them won first place in their divisions. From there, they went on to the State Tournament in Newport News.

THE FIRST-PLACE team of fifth-graders Andrew Kim, Avanti Shirke, Esther Yi, Joon Cho, Kaavya Rao, Romita Mandal, and Yashu Sampatkumar, was coached by Jyoti Shirke, a parent who is coaching this team for the second year. They worked on the problem “Tech Transfer.” The team had to design, build and operate a device that had an extendable arm to transfer team-created objects from one area to another. The team also had to write a script and perform a play that included this particular device. The children worked for hours, designing a device that required trips to the local Home Depot, a bit of drilling, gluing, and a lot of tinkering and re-working until the device finally met with the whole team’s approval.

Parents are allowed to help only by being supportive and offering snacks and rides. Odyssey is all about independent thinking, and penalties for outside assistance are strong.

Lori Cleveland, the principal at Greenbriar West Elementary, is a strong supporter, and has herself been an active participant in the program. “This is such an exciting event for GBW! We are very proud of our OM participants and we wish them much success at the World Competition,” said Cleveland.

The first-place team is looking for sponsors to help them reach Iowa. If you can support in anyway, contact the school 703-633-6700.

THE FOURTH-PLACE team team of students Alex Bilas, Alexia Kim, Anagha Srikanth, Jenny Chen, Rohan Krishnan, Sameer Srivatsava, and Varun Kripanandan, coached by Ms. Priya Krishnan, worked on the “Jungle Bloke” problem. They created an original performance wherein a "bloke" had the ability to understand animals, and solved the problems put forth by the animals in a jungle setting. Props, a song and dance, and costumes played a vital role, along with solving the problem in a creative way.

A third Greenbriar West team received second place in their division at the regional competition. GBW students participated alongside the middle schools. With their exceptional team work, the team earned the highest point in their long-term problem presentation, receiving outstanding comments from their judges. That team comprised of Brian Rothschild, Anish Tondwalkar, Karl Vitale, Trishna Patel, Chandrakanth Venigalla, Simran Sidhhu and Mary Sun; and was coached by Teresa Rothschild and Priti Tondwalkar. Jean Angel, their third grade teacher, supported their effort by volunteering her time for judging during the tournament.