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First the state, now the world: Sanfordville OotM team headed to Iowa


Warwick - Sanfordville Elementary School's Odyssey of the Mind team, led by teacher Shermane Carter, took first at the State Tournament in Binghamton on April 4.

By outscoring, out-acting and out-thinking 13 other teams in the Division I Earth Trek competition, the six Sanfordville students will now represent New York at the World Finals in Iowa this May.

Carter, a second grade teacher at Sanfordville Elementary, has been coaching Odyssey since 1985, when she began with the Minisink school system. She transferred to Warwick Valley schools, first at Kings Elementary, then at Sanfordville after it opened in 2000.

Over the years, Carter has coached her teams to state championships seven times.

When asked what attracted her to coaching Odyssey, Carter said that it appealed to her because it "was more academically oriented ... a mind thing. Students can could apply the techniques they learned in Odyssey to the classroom, in terms of problem-solving and brainstorming, as well as working as a team.

"It's good for their self-esteem, and for thinking outside of the box," said Carter. "Cliche, but true."

She added that the kids often continue with Odyssey of the Mind from elementary school on up to Middle School, and n in some cases, high school. During a recent interview, Carter told of a former student who is now in college, but is following this year's Odyssey proceedings closely.

Her three daughters each participated in Odyssey, the youngest moving from the elementary to middle school level of the competition.

To participate in Odyssey of the Mind, students must first audition for a team. She asks each student to do a task, such as provide a piece of original artwork, an original poem or piece of literature. Then she asked them to "do some improv, then some skits."

The current project, "Earth Trek," for Division I, is a mechanical problem, "a wheeled contraption of their own design." The "contraption" must be able to be able to go through four different environments, yet change to adapt to each environment without losing its wheels, appearing as a series of different vehicles.

The catch: the cost of the materials to build the project could not exceed about $140.

Parents whose children were coached by Carter laud her as dedicated. Janeen Mitchell, a Sanfordville PIE 1-2 teacher and parent of one of Carter's students, couldn't praise her enough: "Shermane's so dedicated, under-appreciated. People have no idea what it takes as coach. She has a "huge commitment" to the children.

Mitchell explained that Odyssey team members practice four to five times a week beginning in January; by February practice runs daily, including Saturdays.

"Shermane keeps them until 6:30, 7:30 at night," just to make sure the team members are in top form for the competition. It's an "intense experience," Mitchell continued. "You'd think they'd get tired of each other, but they have great camaraderie."

Why does she continue coaching Odyssey, year after year?

The coach put it simply: "For the children, absolutely, and the growth aspects."


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