Odyssey of the Mind a success for Illing students
By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Thu., Jun. 16, 2011
Members of Illing’s Odyssey of the Mind “Full Circle” team are pleased with the successes they have experienced this year.
After winning first place in the state competition, the team attended the World Finals competition over Memorial Day weekend at the University of Maryland. The team finished in 10th place out of 62 teams from across the country and a few international teams.
Full Circle team members included seventh-graders Ashley, Morgan and Brenna, and eighth-graders Vincent, Matt, Bijan and Jon. “We had to do a humorous performance that changed three times and went back to its original form,” explained Vincent.
According to Ashley, the performance also had to include song and dance, and at least one humorous character and one serious character.
Illing also had a second team, the “Goldberg” team, which took fourth at the state competition, with Corey, Ken, Erick, Istvan, Anthony, Kobe and Evan, all eighth-graders. The Goldberg team solved a mechanical problem, designing a complicated device to complete a simple task.
Both teams were coached by Illing faculty members David Lee and Ryan Parker. “Mr. Parker and I worked really well together,” said Lee, who has been coaching the Odyssey teams for seven years. It was the first time for a co-coach. “We brought specific strengths and passions,” Lee said.
The coaches enjoy seeing the student initiative take hold. “It’s great to see the correlation between academics and creativity,” said Parker. “I’ve learned a lot about coaching and giving back to the kids.”
The decision for the Full Circle team to select the “Problem 5” performance was made jointly by the team and the coaches. “I thought it would really highlight their strengths,” said Lee. The students were responsible for creating all elements of the performance, from the script and choreography to the props and costumes.
“We had to hand-make all the props,” explained Matt, and stay within the budget of $125.
“It was my first time doing Odyssey this year,” said Ashley, “so I had no idea what it would be like.” Speaking about doing the performance at the competition, she said, “It became natural and just perfect. We practiced a lot.”
The Odyssey team met after school for months. “It got really hard,” said Bijan about balancing Odyssey with homework and other activities.
“A lot of times we would clash with each other,” said Jon, “but we knew we had to get this done, so we shut up.”
At the world competition, the team also had to participate in the “spontaneous” event, which for Full Circle involved thinking up new reasons why certain landmarks, such as the Great Wall or the Eiffel Tower, were made and became famous. “I particularly liked Jon’s comment,” said Ashley, “about the Taj Mahal that ‘it was built to hold the emperor’s big ego.’”
Being in the state and the world competitions not only brought the students together as a team, but also helped them overcome their own nervousness about performing in front of others. “It felt like the butterflies all flew out,” said Matt in describing the sensation of overcoming their fears.
“It’s really a lot of fun,” said Ashley, “and gives you a chance to see that you can accomplish a lot.” She added, though, that the student needs to realize the time commitment.
“You get to meet a lot of new and interesting people,” added Vincent, referring both to his team members and the other students he met at the competitions. “Before Odyssey, I would never have thought to get in front of people performing.”
Commenting on what he learned by being on the team, Matt said, “We learned a lot about each other.”
“And duct tape, and super glue,” joked Jon.