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JPS High School Wins First Place at Odyssey of the Mind World Finals

Winners with the first-place trophy, from left to right. Front row: Coah B. Parekkadan, Cathy Diachang, April Wang, Kennice Pan, Michelle Li. Back row: Prateek Khandelwal, Vipul Setty, Guarav Aggarwal

In a competition that involved total 850 teams worldwide, New Jersey's own J.P. Stevens High School are the proud first place winners of the 2017 World Finals.

Odyssey of the Mind is a team-based, competitive, creativity competition. There are 5 types of long term problems with different central foci that each team can choose from: Problem 1 (vehicle), Problem 2 (technical/presentation), Problem 3 (classics), Problem 4 (structure), Problem 5 (humor). There is also a spontaneous problem, which they will have to solve on the spot. The JP Team that are world champions this year chose Problem 4. In problem 4, they had to create a balsa wood structure from sets of specific wood lengths to hold weight. There is also a presentation element in which they must integrate the testing of the balsa wood structure with a performance with a theme about precision.

World Finals for Odyssey of the Mind took place at Michigan State University, from May 24th-May 28th, where Team A's Captain April Wang along with her team (Gaurav Aggarwal, Cathy Daichang, Prateek Khandelwal, Michelle Li, Kennice Pan, and Vipul Setty), spent countless hours and many sleepless nights working on Ready, Set, Balsa, Build! earning 2nd place in the style category, 2nd place in spontaneous and had the highest weight in Division 3. The team's hard work and dedication to the competition paid off, placing them the highest of any NJ team at the World Finals in Problem 4, out of 43 competing teams.

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All of the students do a little bit of everything but there are roles that they tended to fall back into for this year. April was the builder and captain of the team. It was her design for the balsa wood structure that enabled her to hold the most weight in the world this year. She played some major roles on this team: she brought it together (they were not all friends before this experience), she had them disciplined with routines to get ready for competition, and she maintained a sense of authority and composure throughout the process. Gaurav and Vipul helped in terms of weight placement and both students serve to develop the technical elements of the problem: creation of sets/frames, dragon’s wings that fold/span out, etc. Prateek and Cathy do much of the scriptwriting and small props. Cathy and Michelle primarily work on costuming and makeup. And, the exquisite art scenes are managed by Michelle and Kennice. 

Next year's Odyssey of the Mind World Finals will take place at Iowa State University from May 23-26, 2018.

"If we do not expect the unexpected, we will never find it." - Heraclitus

Special thanks to organizers and volunteers at Odyssey of The Mind, Mr. Benny Parekkadan - JPS Coach for OM and to the founder, Dr. C. Samuel Micklus. To learn more about Odyssey of the Mind, visit their website:


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