Competition helps students cope
Odyssey of the Mind is welcome diversion for those hit by '06 flood
By George Basler
Press & Sun-Bulletin
Rose Green likes doing Odyssey of the Mind because it gives her a chance to use her creativity. She also likes hanging out with friends.
This year, the annual competition has also been a welcome breath of normalcy for the 11-year-old whose home was badly damaged by last June's flooding in Conklin.
"After the summer, and stuff, it was kind of disappointing. ... It was fun to have something to look forward to," said the fifth-grader at Donnelly Elementary School in the Susquehanna Valley Central School District.
Rose is one of seven members on the Donnelly team, either fifth- or third-graders, who will compete Saturday in the 23rd Regional Odyssey of the Mind Competition at the Broome-Tioga Board of Cooperative Educational Services' center on Glenwood Road in Dickinson.
The Donnelly team will join 135 other teams from 51 public and private schools for the creative problem-solving competition for students from elementary to high school. While the number of teams is down slightly from last year's 143 teams, seven new schools are participating this year, said Lynette Bryan, regional director of the competition.
For the Donnelly team, the competition has given them focus after a difficult summer, said Teddi Black, a second-grade teacher at Donnelly who is the team's coach.
All team members were affected by the flooding in some way, she said. Two lost a huge amount of personal items in their homes. Another team member's family housed families displaced by the flood. Other students volunteered in the community.
Fifth-grader Dallas Rockwell is blunt: "I had a horrible summer," said the 11-year-old whose home had 4 feet of water in it at one point. The whole thing "stinks," he added. But working on the Odyssey team has been a way to brighten his year.
The Donnelly team, as is the case with all the teams in the event, has worked for months practicing, and building sets to present a skit. The team will compete in the "Around The World In Eight Minutes" category that will have a "traveler" character visit three stops on earth that have different characteristics. The last stop will be Entopia, a country the students made up themselves.
Other members of the Donnelly team are Sean Callahan, 10; Katie Markstein, 11; Julia Black, 8; Christina Waite, 8; and Natalie Murphy, 9.
Winners at the regional level will go to the state competition March 31. More than just competing, Black hopes team members take away the lesson that "nothing is impossible. They can do so much with what they have."
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