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SHS Odyssey of the Mind team qualifies for Worlds
W SHS Mousemobiles World Team Practicing
The Statesboro High Odyssey of the Mind team practices with its Mousemobiles. - photo by Special

      Statesboro High School's Extreme Mousemobiles Team won second place at the State Odyssey of the Mind finals in Columbus last week, qualifying them for the World Odyssey of the Mind finals at the University of Maryland, May 27-30.
     The SHS group was part of a successful Bulloch County showing at state with three, top-four wins out of five teams: Two from Sallie Zetterower Elementary, one from William James Middle, and two from Statesboro High. Each advanced to state after achieving top-three finishes at February's regionals in Savannah.
     "The kids are ecstatic," said SHS coach Kate Fitch, who leads the Mousemobiles team along with parent volunteer Jeff Davis and SHS science teacher Richard McCombs. "World Finals allows them to compete with the world's best. Our hardest challenge will be raising more than $10,000 in six weeks to cover our expenses."
      More than 800 teams, representing 50 states and 25 foreign countries will gather in Maryland for the three-day competition.
      This is SHS's first year competing in Odyssey of the Mind. The school's Mousemobiles and Le Tour Guide teams were comprised entirely of freshman. Despite their freshman status, both SHS teams had nine Odyssey veterans: Jane Hayes, Jake Orvis, Loren Eighmie, George Gagel, Annalycia Liston-Beck, Weibo Fu, Fielding Keeley, Schad Lloyd and Bailey Hitt.
     Most got their start in third grade at SZES under language arts teacher Marianna Voiselle, who started the District's first Odyssey team eight years ago, and with Fitch who started a WJMS team four years ago.
     For Statesboro Mousemobiles team member Bailey Hitt, it's a Worlds repeat. He was on the WJMS team last year, along with Gagel and Eighmie, which gave Bulloch County its first Odyssey state championship. They went on to a top-20 World Finals finish in their long-term problem out of 62 international, middle-school teams and a fifth-place Worlds ranking in the spontaneous problems portion.
      "It's a real adrenaline rush! I enjoy connecting with new people," Hitt said.
    Odyssey veterans Jake Orvis and Schad Lloyd built six intricate mousemobiles to solve the team's problem.
      "I love building and making things work," said Orvis, who's been on four state teams and now adds Worlds to his list.
    His younger brother Jameson competed on William James' Extreme Mousemobiles Team as well.
     "I was amazed with what they did. I wondered why we didn't come up with that," Orvis said.
      Sibling connections was common this year. Six sets of siblings competed, many on the same problems, but in different elementary, middle and high school divisions.
     "We encouraged each other, but couldn't talk about our solutions," said Weibo Fu, of SHS's Le Tour Guide Team, whose fifth-grade, twin sisters, Jessica and Rebecca, were on SZES's Le Tour Guide Team.
      Odyssey of the Mind is an international critical thinking competition for elementary through college students. Each year       Odyssey develops six, new problems, and Bulloch County is developing a winning tradition.
      It is the second year in a row that a team has advanced to World Finals, and 13 teams have advanced to state since 2003.

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