Odyssey of the Mind: 'It’s the journey that counts'

Three teams from Warwick advanced to the 39th World Finals in Iowa

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  • Provided photos MS Emoji Team: Randi Seward, Sasha Blanchard, Sophia Samborski, Alana Adee, Mary Hoey and Stephen D'Ambrosio.

  • Park Avenue OM Team: Aj Kobrick, Thomas Gehm, Nick Hefner, Nina Cirillo, Keene Eicher, Madison Lijoi and Cavan Byrne.

  • Middle School Triathlon Travels Team: Back row, from left to right: Naa Korkoi “Kooki” Aryeetey, Olivia Holland, Ava Gell, Rachel Powers, Julie Woods and Jay Seward. And in front, blowing the kiss: Alexa Keys.

— Three Warwick Valley Odyssey of the Mind teams - one elementary and two from the middle school - advanced to the 39th World Finals, one of the largest international creative problem-solving competitions worldwide.

More than 850 teams from around the world competed at Iowa State University May 23-26.

Each team worked together for eight months to solve their long-term problem (in an original skit) which they performed live in eight minutes in front of a panel of judges.

The student members wrote the skit, built their sets out of recycled materials and designed and created their costumes. Thousands of teams from all over the world chose the same problems, but each solution and performance were completely different.

They also participated in the spontaneous portion of the competition by generating solutions to a problem they had not seen before.

The Park Avenue Elementary team and one of the Middle School teams, choose the “Emoji-Speak for Yourself” themed-problem. The team needed to create three dimensional Emojis to tell a story about a once-famous, but forgotten emoji.

An added challenge was that no verbal communication was allowed for the entire eight-minute performance. (This was the first time there had ever been a non-verbal solution in the history of Odyssey of the Mind.)

Park AvenueThe elementary team (Division 1) was coached by Kerin Lijoi and Lauren Gehm. The team placed 21st and was comprised of Cavan Byrne, Nina Cirillo, Keene Eicher, Thomas Gehm, Nick Hefner, AJ Kobrick and Madison Lijoi.

The team’s set and skit were Monopoly Game-themed and included original and creative pieces built by the students such as a car that flipped into a boat and a tree that grew right before the audience’s eyes

“I loved building all of the pieces of our set especially the community chest," said third-grader Keene Eicher. "I got to use PVC cutters, exacto knives and a saw."

Middle School Emoji teamThe Middle School (Division 2) Emoji team was coached by JB DiCarlantonio and Michelle Amato. The team placed 13th and was comprised of Sasha Blanchard, Stephen D’Ambrosio, Mary Hoey, Alana Adee, Sophia Samborski and Randi Seward.

Their team’s solution revolved around an emoji left on earth by space travelers. In their skit, aliens took over the White House in search of the forgotten emoji.

The White House, Pentagon, a newsroom and the South Lawn were all depicted in this team’s solution.

The team created an impressive five-scene set that seamlessly allowed the audience to follow the eight-minute non-verbal solution.

Their handmade set featured many artistic details such as 5,000 individually made corn stalks that were strategically placed to create a life-like crop circle in the shape of the forgotten emoji, an Odyssey mascot “Omer” and an Army general created from all recycled beverage items.

More than 1,000 different bottle caps, straws, coffee stirrers and aluminum can pull tabs were placed to create a three-dimensional emoji.

“Although our finished set and performance were awesome," sixth grader Stephen D’Ambrosio said, "it was all the failures along the way that challenged us to create what we ended up with.”

Teammate Sophia Samborski added: “Odyssey of the Mind takes up eight months of your life but it will be the best eight months of your life.

“My favorite part of World Finals," she added, "was meeting kids from all around the world and seeing all the creative and cool things they came up with.”

Middle School Triathlon TravelsThe second Division 2 Middle School team choose the Triathlon Travels Problem and was coached by Rehka Woods and Donna Denny.

The team placed eighth and was comprised of Naa Korkoi “Kooki” Aryeetey, Alexa Keys, Ava Gell, Olivia Holland, Rachel Powers, Jay Seward and Julie Woods.

The team was tasked with creating a ride-on vehicle, which was propelled by a hand drill, that could complete a triathlon of jousting, curling and driving around a set of obstacles.

This team's performance was based on the stars in the galaxy with each character representing a constellation.

Their set featured creative elements such as a pop-up observatory, a light-up illuminated star chart and hundreds of hand folded and painted origami stars.

“Odyssey of the Mind has taught me that it’s the journey that counts," sixth grader Ava Gell said. "Going to Worlds and Odyssey itself shows me the true power and creativity that kids have worldwide. It has granted me the experience of meeting some of the most creative and inspiring individuals from all over the world, that I am proud to call my friends.”

In addition to the competition itself, highlights of being at Worlds include Opening and Closing Ceremonies, pin trading, the International Float and Banner parade, the Creativity festival and the opportunity to be partnered with an international “Buddy” team.

This year all three Warwick teams spent a lot of time and really bonded with their Buddy teams from Mexico.

“My favorite part of being at Worlds," said seventh grader Rachael Powers said, "was meeting new people from around the country, and the world, as I collected and traded pins.”

Since 1991, The Warwick Valley School district has been a competitor in Odyssey of The Mind.

“On behalf of all the Warwick Odyssey teams we want to thank The Warwick Valley Superintendent and Board of Education for their continued support," said Donna Denny, Warwick’s Odyssey coordinator. "We also want to recognize and thank Susan and Glenn Dickes for their interest, support, generosity and for embracing the value and importance of this program.

“We would also like to thank the public for their donations, our sponsors and recognize and thank Paulette Rudy who volunteered countless hours to help the teams with their spontaneous challenges,” Denny added.

For more information about odyssey of the mind visit https://www.odysseyofthemind.com or contact Denny at ddenny@wvcsd.org

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