O & M

Throwback to 2015 OM team

Throwback to 2015 OM team

Peregrine Perkins, Jr. High EMC Reporter

Winter starts on December 21st. This means skiing! But it also means, I  have recently started started planning for the spring OM competition.

OM is a team competition league that spans the entire United States and a few foreign countries. The way you win these competitions is by getting points from your performance and a spontaneous problem. Teams are formed divided up into competing groups depending on which problem they choose and their division. In my experience the team gets the 5 different skits to choose from sometime in August, selects their problem, brainstorms a skit, comes up with a script, and builds and designs scenery, costumes, props, and costumes for their regional competition in February. First place puts you into the States competition a month or so later, and first or second at states gets you to Worlds, the highest level. 

At competitions there are two factors on which your score depends. The first is the aforementioned skit. This is an 8-minute (or less) performance based on the problem your team selected. Each of the problems has a central theme and basic guidelines for scenery, machines, characters, and the plot. The team designs everything they need and loads it up to drive off to compete. Your team goes in front of judges and performs its skit, and afterwards the judges go through the scoring sheet and give you points based on your creativity, humor, and certain “style” items like a specific character’s costume or a prop. There are usually about 5 style elements per problem: some are pre-picked and mandated for the team to make and others are chosen by the team depending on what they have made for the skit and thinks is the most creative or beautiful.

Then there’s the spontaneous problem. Unlike the performance you go in for the spontaneous totally clueless as to what problem you’re solving. You walk into a room at the competition with your team, sit down, and are given a problem. There are two types of problems you may be given. First is a verbal problem. For verbal problems you come up with creative answers to a question, like “Finish the sentence: If I woke up one day as a duck, the first thing I would do is ________.” Then your team has about a minute to think up a few answers to give and three minutes or so to give your responses, each of which are scored. Then there are also hands-on problems. In a hands-on problem your team has to use a set of provided materials to make a structure like a bridge or tower. You get points for how tall your structure is, how many ping pong balls it can hold before falling over, et cetera. Hybrids also exist, like making sound effects and coding them as directions to move a blindfolded person towards an object.

You might remember about 4 years ago when the school put up a bunch of maps and labels all over the school. That year was when we hosted this first regional competition. Anyway, if you win this regional competition you can tweak your performance or even start over from scratch to score better at States.

My experience in OM is extensive. I’ve been doing it for 8 years now with my team. How I first got into it was through my brother. He had been part of a team the year before and when someone left, I was invited in. I’ve been competing ever since. My team has gone to the state competition six times and almost got to worlds two years ago. But really, sometimes the destination is the journey. I look forward to every meeting with my team. We have a lot of fun writing the script, building materials for the skit, practicing spontaneous problems, and just hanging out. It’s cool to see how different people bring different elements of humor and creativity to the table. Every year we have so much fun competing together and making new yearly traditions.  The state competition (aka States) in New York is usually held at one specific college and my team has a tradition of eating at this one Vietnamese restaurant. We all eat phō, a kind of vietnamese soup, the night before the competition, and eat lunch at Texas Road House the day of. As I said before we’ve never made it to worlds but every year different states and nations host the event. It’s been in Michigan, Japan, England, Florida–you name it. 

Last year was kind of weird the way everything was set up. You had to make a video of your performance and send it to judges, but nothing was judged regionally. Everything was sent straight to a “state level” of judging where only the top 100 or so placed. Things are (mostly) back to normal now though. As far as I know we’ll actually go in person to the regional competition, and hopefully States this year.

The pre-competition season is now in full swing and my team is beginning to outline our story. The cool thing is that my two little brothers are both on OM teams, too. I never thought I would see them competing. Of course, they’re on a lower level of competition. The youngest, Teddy, is in Primary, which is the first grade level, and Edmund, who is in Division 1. The levels ascend with age, from Primary up to Division 3, the high school level, which my team is currently in.

What I hope I’ll take away from OM is memories, better leadership, planning, and acting skills as well as a better sense of humor and creativity. And maybe one of our school teams will bring home a place Saturday,  March 12th at Myers Education Center in Saratoga Springs. Wish us luck!