Chevy Chase Citizens Association: May 24, 2017

Overcrowding at Murch Elementary School prompted plans for a modernization and expansion. (Brian Kapur/The Current/February 2016)

Murch Elementary School families and our community have a lot to be excited about. The school’s renovation is on track. And both Murch Odyssey of the Mind teams, coached by enrichment teacher Roxanne Bentley, went to the state-level competition, where they placed first and second in their division. Next, they’ll travel to Michigan State University for the World Finals, where they’ll compete against 75 teams including private, public and international schools, some from as far away as China.

Bentley says that being on an Odyssey of the Mind Team nurtures teamwork, creativity, compromise and cooperation.  The teams consist of students in grades three to five. Members meet weekly to develop their creativity through “spontaneous practices” and work on a long-term problem of their choosing. Both Murch teams chose “A Super Hero Cliffhanger,” writing a humorous performance in which the protagonist rescues creativity from being eliminated. For more information, visit

Murch students will perform the “Lion King Jr.” at the University of the District of Columbia Theater of the Arts on June 1 and 2 at 6 p.m. Both shows (Thursday and Friday) are open to the public. Tickets are $5 for both adults and children and can be purchased at The university auditorium seats only 900, so get your tickets early.

Designer Sandra Smoker-Duraes has designed beautiful costumes for the show, and beautiful dances have been choreographed by Tara Compton and Robert Priore of Company E. The show features musicians James Parker Jr. and Joshua Cleveland, and is directed by Eugene Branch Jr., Murch’s music teacher. While bringing music, singing, performing and music direction to its highest level at Murch, Branch is developing a music curriculum that fits the needs of the students, revamping the traditional music program with new performances such as Grandparents Day and Festival of Lights, as well as appearances at the Kennedy Center.

— Amy R. Mack