Local 5th graders to compete against the world in Odyssey of the Mind competition

By on May 13, 2022

Kitty Hawk Elementary School Odyssey of the Mind team (from left) Joe LoCicero, Wade Benton, Holden Hudspeth, Lars Lang, Kaitlyn Schwartzenberg, Quinn Wisecarver and Lily Casias. Photo by Michelle Wagner

A team of seven Kitty Hawk Elementary School fifth graders will head to Iowa State University on May 25 to participate in the Odyssey of the Mind (OM) World Finals where the students will go up against about 150 other teams from across the nation and world in a competition that showcases their creative abilities to problem solve.

The students – Joe LoCicero, Wade Benton, Holden Hudspeth, Lars Lang, Kaitlyn Schwartzenberg, Quinn Wisecarver and Lily Casias – have been thinking outside the box since October. That’s when they first began working on the OM problem they chose for this year’s competitions — Life is A Circus.

The problem they were challenged with was to create a performance about a young person enjoying a regular life, but then waking up one day to discover being transported into a circus world filled with original animals performing tricks, a clown, circus acts and a ringmaster.

Their challenge – which concludes with the young person returning to the regular world believing it’s all been a dream until seeing a mysterious figure that turns out to be from the circus – is one of the five long-term problems OM teams could choose from this year to solve during their eight-minute performance.

Each year, teams choose a problem that focuses on one of five categories – vehicle, classics, structure, technical or performance. The KHES team chose the performance category, which is scored based on the creativity, quality, effectiveness and humor of the skit as it relates to the problem.

During the competition, in addition to the long-term problem they’ve chosen to solve, each team is also challenged and judged on how they solve a surprise spontaneous problem, which they can’t plan for, but will either be verbal, hands-on or both and must be solved in 10 minutes.

The team’s head coach, Elizabeth Hudspeth, said the group has grown tremendously since they began working together. “They really are a good group of kids,” she said. “They are creative, they’ve written a really good skit and they’ve done a great job. They’re hard workers and they’ve stuck with it,” she said.

All the hard work of the Kitty Hawk Team, coupled with their collective creativity, has certainly paid off.

The team placed top three at the Division 1 (3rd, 4th and 5th grade level) OM Regional Competition On Feb. 26 at First Flight Middle and High schools. They then went on to earn third-place honors overall and first in their performance category at the State Championship at Western Carolina University on April 2. Their April 2 performance positioned them to advance to the World Finals in Ames, Iowa.

According to its website, Odyssey of the Mind teaches students, from the elementary to high school level, how to develop and use their natural creativity to become problem-solvers. It was founded in 1978 by a New Jersey college professor who believed that learning should be fun, that students should incorporate their own interests, that there are always new uses for old items and the way you ask a question is everything.

For students who participate in OM, along with learning to tap into their innate creativity, other skills that are honed include public speaking, teamwork, time management, critical thinking and thinking outside the box to name a few.

“It’s been super fun and a great experience,” said Kaitlyn Schwartzenberg, who plays the ringmaster during the skit. “It’s fun being able to create and work on different things like makeup and art.”

Schwartzenberg also said that she has become more comfortable on stage.  “When we did our first competition, I was really scared to death. I thought, ‘What if I mess up or don’t remember something?’ But once you do it a few times, it’s much easier.”

For his part, team member Lars Lang said he’s enjoyed meeting new people at the competitions. And as for what he’s learned during the process, he said, “I learned to never give up on stage.”

The team is led by four coaches – Hudspeth, Cindy Benton, Felisha Lang and Jennifer Casias. While coaches are there to guide the students, OM coaches aren’t permitted to help the students with developing skits or making costumes, props or ideas. They can only ask open-ended questions that encourage them to think and problem solve for themselves.

“They are a great team,” Benton said during a recent practice. “They each have their strengths – some are good with the art piece of it, some are better at writing the skit itself, but they just have worked together and have become very close as a group. They are a very close-knit group.”

To learn more about the Kitty Hawk OM team or to donate to the team to help them go to the World Finals, visit khesodysseyofthemind.com.



Barnhill Contracting Company will receive sealed proposals for Manns Harbor – EMS/Fire Facility (EMS-8), Kitty Hawk – EMS/Fire Facility (EMS-9), Manteo – Youth Center on January 09, 2024. Times to be given on via addendum #01. See the following SCOPE OF WORK: BP 100 – General Trades, BP 105 – Final Cleaning, BP 205 – Demolition, BP 390 – Turnkey Concrete, BP 400 – Turnkey Masonry, BP 500 – Turnkey Structural Steel & Misc. Steel, BP 505 – Light Gauge Metal Trusses, BP 740 – Roofing, BP750 – Siding, BP 790 – Caulking/Sealants, BP 800 – Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware/Toilet Specialties/Accessories/Division 10, BP 840 – Curtainwall/Storefront/Glass/Glazing, BP 925 – Drywall/Framing, BP 960 – Resilient Flooring/Carpet/Base/Epoxy, BP 980 – Acoustical Ceilings, BP 990 – Painting and Wall Coverings, BP 1230 – Finish Carpentry and Casework, BP 1250 – Window Treatments, BP 2100 – Fire Protection, BP 2200 – Plumbing, BP 2300 – HVAC, BP 2600 – Electrical, BP 3100 – Earthwork/Turnkey Site, BP 3213- Site Concrete, BP 3290 – Landscaping. Scopes of work may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager.

Bid Location and Time: Bid opening will be held in the Barnhill Contracting Rocky Mount Training & GPS Technology Room: 800 Tiffany Bvld, Rocky Mount, NC 27804. Time is as follows: January 09, 2024 at 10:00am and 2:00pm. Times per packages to be given on via addendum #01.

Barnhill Contracting Company will receive, open, and read publicly all bids received in person in the Training & GPS Technology Room at the main office and listed with the virtual viewing at the link to be posted on Barnhill’s Plan Room.

Bids will not be accepted from bidders that are not pre-qualified. No facsimile or email submissions are permitted. Sealed bids are to be hand delivered to the bid opening location noted above or mailed Sealed Bids can be delivered before 9:00am the day of the bid to the Barnhill Contracting Company Office at 800 Tiffany Blvd., Suite 200 Rocky Mount, NC 27804. Attention “Clint Hardison.”

The pre-bid meeting will be held in Person & Zoom Meeting on December 06, 2023 at 10:00 am at the Barnhill Contracting’s Rocky Mount Main Conference Room: 800 Tiffany Bvld, Rocky Mount, NC 27804.

The pre-bid meeting link can be located on Barnhill’s online Building Division Plan Room ( https://app.buildingconnected.com/public/54da832ce3edb5050017438b) and below. A preferred brand alternates meeting will be held via the same link at the end of the Prebid meeting.

Bid Documents can be viewed or downloaded through Barnhill’s online Building Division Plan Room (https://app.buildingconnected.com/public/54da832ce3edb5050017438b) after 12/04/2023.

All Bidders are strongly encouraged to include opportunities for HUB participation wherever possible in their respective Bid submission.  HUB participation is a part of this contract and must comply with all requirements set forth in the Bid Documents.

The Construction Manager and Owner reserve the right to add pre-qualified bidders. The Construction Manager and Owner reserve the right to reject any and all bids. Should you require additional direction, please call Barnhill Contracting Company, (Clint Hardison – 252-802-0740).

Clint Hardison is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

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