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Odyssey team headed to world championship

Some Forsyth County students may excel at science and others at the arts, but a team of local students is heading to the world competition for both.

Recently, a Forsyth County Public Library team made up of students from Lambert High School and Riverwatch Middle School won second place at the state Odyssey of the Mind competition and are heading to the world championship at Michigan State University.

“It was really surprising because there are all these big power house schools; they’ve been doing it for years,” said Abhideep Budda, a 10th grader at Lambert.

“We’ve only been doing this for three,” continued teammate Bridget Van Velsor, an eighth grader at Riverwatch.

Odyssey of the Mind is a unique, international competition that focuses on creative problem solving and focuses on both science and the arts.

For their division, the team had to build a structure out of glue and balsa wood and were rewarded for how much weight could be supported before breaking. However, the team also had to answer verbal questions with creative answers and use their acting skills.

“Our other portion is after we’ve made the structure and go to competition, we test it there,” said 10th-grader Utsav Paul, “but while that’s happening, because it’s boring just watching put weights on, you have a skit. You have an eight-minute time period and you do a play.”

The team has made the state competition all three years it has existed, but this is the first time going to worlds.

“It was down to two teams: our team and one other team,” Paul said. “It was really close who was going to go. Last year was the same thing where it was really close, but sadly we didn’t go.”

The team will now face competition from around the world.

Unlike most teams they have faced, the team is sponsored by the library rather than a school. Originally, the team was at Riverwatch before the organizing teacher moved schools.

“They got put together randomly; they didn’t know each other before,” said coach Judy Van Velsor. “Once we knew the program was not going to be at Riverwatch anymore, we had a couple of them move to high school; we understood the high school and the middle schools couldn’t then sponsor us and we had to scramble.

“They had to join a community organization that would take all of them and Forsyth County Public Library said yes.”

Even the team’s middle schoolers compete with high school students.

Members of the team from Riverwatch are eighth-graders Aaditya Anugu, Angad Singh and Van Velsor. From Lambert are 10th-graders Sydney Edgar, Adarsh Ravikumar, Budda and Paul.

Ravikumar said Odyssey of the Mind is unlike any things else he has ever done.

“I like Odyssey because it’s like a completely new experience; I’ve never done anything like this before and it’s really fun,” Ravikumar said. “It’s all the things I’m good at.”