"At first we weren't able to get on the Internet to watch the awards,
but then one of our team members has a really good computer so he was
able to get five seconds of it. That's when he heard that we had taken
the silver medal," said Justin Umpierre, 18, a seven-year team veteran.
Burroughs scored nine fewer points than schools from Hong Kong and
North Carolina, which tied for first. The finals were held May 31 to June
3 in Knoxville, Tenn. Burroughs' six-member vehicle team competed against
40 other teams from around the world. It was the school's first
appearance in the international round of Odyssey of the Mind.
Team members Umpierre, Nari Ansari, Jeff Toor, Chris Allison, Pete
Chesney and Orlando Arguello were given their silver medals and trophy
Wednesday night at Burroughs because they had to leave the three-day
competition early. They relied on Cathy Maginn, Los Angeles regional
director for Odyssey of the Mind, to bring home their winning hardware.
"When one of the coaches told me to make sure I pick up the awards for
the kids, I had no idea," Maginn said.
Maginn said the spontaneous problem, a timed exercise that tested the
students ability to think on their feet, put the Burroughs squad over the
top. The team placed first in that portion of the competition, she said.
"We had eight minutes to do the problem and we did it in five,"
The problem required the students to stack 100 pennies using paper
clips, straws, tape and other materials, Umpierre said. The catch was the
pennies could not touch each other and had to be at least two inches off
the surface in order to receive credit.
In moments, the team built a 45-inch tall tower that impressed the
"It wasn't the greatest structure, leaning over a little bit, but it
got the job done," Umpierre said.
Nari, 17, who has also been with the team seven years, has had his
share of honors this month. In addition to being part of the Odyssey
team, he was named salutatorian for the 1999-2000 Burroughs graduating
"This team works because we're not just team members, but we're also
best friends," he said.