The Journey Continues!

High School Odyssey of the Mind Team Advances to State Competition

By Jann Wiswall

Ellicottville Central School’s High School Odyssey of the Mind team has advanced to the State Tournament after taking first place at the Regional Competition held last weekend at Wellsville High School.

The team, composed of two seniors (Eric Oliverio and Patrick Snyder) and four juniors (Izzy Brown, McKenzie Robinson, Emily Timkey and Chris Wojtowicz), was coached by Caitlyn Keller and assistant coach Megan Westfall, an 11th grader. All of these team members have participated in Odyssey of the Mind since they were in 4th grade, and all have been involved in teams that advanced to States at least once before.

“It’s a real accomplishment to get this far in the competition, and we’re especially proud of this group of Odyssey veterans,” said Odyssey of the Mind Coordinator Colleen Bower.

Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program for teams of elementary through college students to solve problems using creative thinking, brainstorming, teamwork and problem-solving skills. The program is designed to teach the concept that “a group is a more powerful thinking force than an individual.”

Of the five problems posed by the international Odyssey of the Mind program, the high school team opted for a problem called “It’s How You Look at It.” Teams were instructed to “create and present an original, humorous performance” showing how a character acts “normally” in his/her own environment, but “oddly” in another character’s setting, and vice versa. The performance had to include a scene change and a “meter” that indicates the degree of normal/odd behavior displayed.

The team created a performance featuring an elderly man in a nursing home and a nurse. The man considers himself to be very hip, which makes him “odd” to the nurse in the nursing home setting, but when the nurse follows him outside of the home to visit with some “cool kids,” she’s the one who’s odd or out of place. The performance took first place in the High School Division.

Five teams of Ellicottville Central School students and their teacher-coaches took part in the Regional Tournament, where 46 teams from 12 western New York school districts competed to advance to the State Tournament. The four other teams – two in the elementary division and two in the middle school division – each took second place at Regionals and did a fantastic job, said Bower, but only the first-place teams advance to States.

The High School team will travel to Binghamton University for the State Competition on March 23. The top two teams for each of the five problems across the state will advance to the World Finals at the University of Michigan in May.

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