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Team competes at Odyssey of the Mind World finals 

By Linda Blackmore

We really had no idea what to expect as we hit the road for our trip to Ames Iowa. We packed pins to trade, costumes to wear and some nervous energy, piled in our decorated mini van and took off!  Upon arrival at Iowa State University we immediately noticed knots of students gathered and chatting, heads bent together interacting and pin trading. We entered Odyssey of the Mind World Finals and what a world it was!  Thousands of people, everyone smiling, trading pins and wishing each other good luck! Crazy costumes, unique props, color, chaos and creativity everywhere you looked. Our World for the next 3 days and we embraced it all! We had a few nerves as we prepared for our long term presentation but we are a team and together we did the best we could competing against 64 teams in our division—the best of the world! When we completed our spontaneous challenge our parents waited outside to cheer us on and drown us in silly string! Very fun and sticky too!

During our time at World Finals we watched numerous teams perform, check out the rock climbing, world finals food options, the Creativity Festival, the International Festival, Float and Banner Parade, pin trading, team bonding swimming talking and a lot of laughter! Our teammates and their families became both friend and family!

In the end we placed 26th out of 64 teams, and we are very proud of that for a first world finals adventure, but what we learned in Odyssey of the Mind goes way beyond the final results; it goes deeper into our life. We learned to never give up, to always look for another solution; that your team doesn’t mean you all have the same skills but means you all bring your skills to the team; we learned self confidence; a firm handshake; how to set our nerves aside to do the work; how to use power tools; hot glue guns; how to look at useless materials to repurpose them into something amazing; and we learned that having a team means someone always has your back.

A few thoughts from the team:

Jade Yowtz (8th grade) – World Finals was a great competition, a great experience and something I will never forget! Working with the best team in the world was amazing and I loved every minute of Odyssey of the Mind!

Nate Slager (6th grade) – This was my third year doing OM and I have always wanted to go to World Finals. Going to Iowa this year was one of the best experiences of my life!

Annalise Elliot (6th grade) – I had a lot of fun meeting students from around the world and to know that they had been working hard on the same problem as our team, I’ll never forget this experience and I’m very  thankful we got to go!

Coryn Wiles (6th grade) – Trading pins and meeting people from other countries was so much fun! Besides going to World Finals to compete, Odyssey of the Mind has given me a more creative brain, helped me in school projects and become closer friends with my teammates which pushes me to trust others!

Thank you to our wonderful sponsors who helped financially to make this possible and thank you to all our community who ate spaghetti, donated cans, bought crafts—we are grateful for you!

Our team:  Coaches Michelle Wiles and Traci Slager; team members Nate Slager, Coryn Wiles, Jade Yowtz, Annalise Elliot, Brielle Sarniak, and Aiden Lake. 

Odyssey of the Mind is open to all students K-12th Teams are divided by grade groups for competition.  For more information you can check out Miodyssey.com or oddyseyofthemind.com. You can also contact Linda Blackmore, regional coordinator at region13mi@gmail.com  or contact any team coach.

Cedar Springs Public Schools will be holding information/hands on presentation meetings for Odyssey of the Mind in early to mid September 2018   Hope to see you there!

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