Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

April 8, 2014

MHS students need funds to go to world finals

MONTCALM — Some local high school students who know how to address complicated problems are now working on an especially important problem: How to raise enough money to let them compete at the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals.

In late March, a team of Montcalm High School students competed in the West Virginia Odyssey of the Mind Tournament and placed first in their division. Team members Dakota Parnell, Jared Parnell, Alaric Lubaczewski, Tyler Kennett and Trevor Darago are now preparing for the World Finals to be hosted at Iowa State University May 28 though 31.

“It’s a lot of work, and you have to have a lot of parent participation,” said teacher Brenda Harshbarger, the team’s coach.

“As state winners, the team is now eligible to participate in the World Finals — an incredible opportunity for the students to meet young competitors and their coaches from all over the world,” she said.

Part of the work involves finding the funding the team needs in order to compete in the World Finals. Harshbarger estimated each team member would need approximately $1,000 to attend the competition.

“I just bought their tickets for their plane fare,” she said. “That was about $389 a ticket. There will be four nights. The stay at Iowa State University for each one will be $531 for food and lodging.”

Harshbarger asked each of the team’s members if they would like to compete in Odyssey of the Mind.

“Well, we were in gifted, and she asked us if we wanted to do it, and we thought it would be fun to do something like this,” said student Jared Parnell. “It’s been fun. We hang out with our friends and we get to build cool stuff; and we came up with creative ways to do it.”

The team has been using various fundraisers to get the necessary money for their trip.

“We made over $600 Saturday,” said student Trevor Dargo. The team has been using car washes, bake sales, and taking orders for books and other items to raise money. Being able to compete in Odyssey of the Mind is not an opportunity many students get, he added.

“We’re going to Iowa State, and a lot of people say ‘You’re really lucky to do this,’” Dargo said.

Montcalm High School is one of Mercer County’s smaller high schools; seventh- and eighth-grade students go to MHS as well as high school grades, said Kellan Sarles, public information specialist for Mercer Schools. Montcalm High has approximately 200 high school age students.

The problem chosen by the team was the “Stackable Structure,” which required them to design and build a structure of balsa wood and glue made of separate, disconnected components that, when stacked, could bear weight.

“Developing the solution requires hours of brainstorming, practice and teamwork,” Harshbarger said. “The competition also has a spontaneous problem-solving contest where each team must solve verbal and hands-on problems.”

Donations can be sent to Montcalm High School. Checks should be made payable to Montcalm High School and sent to the attention of Brenda Harshbarger, Montcalm High School, 710 Simmons River Road, Montcalm, WV 24737.

— Contact Greg Jordan at

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