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Spring Creek Elementary Odyssey of the Mind team advance to world competition

By AMY SOWDER
5:47 P.M. -- Seven Spring Creek Elementary students will make school history when they attend the World Competition of Odyssey of the Mind in May.

"It's my first time and I'm pretty psyched," said Adrian Guerra, 10, a fourth-grade student.

Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college.

Team members apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics. They then bring their solutions to competition on the local, state and world level.

Thousands of teams from throughout the U.S. and from about 25 other countries participate in the program.

"I thought it was very exciting and emotional at first because not many kids can go to world," said Drew Gordon, 9, a fourth-grade student.

Schools across Lee County have teams that meet after school.

But Bonita's elementary school is the only elementary school that made it to the international championship.

"You never dream that your child's team is going to win this far. We are just so excited as parents," said Cheryl Vargas, mother of Eliana, 11, a fifth-grade student.

The group went to University of Central Florida in Orlando this past weekend to compete in state finals. They earned second place.

"When we were at state I got so nervous my stomach felt like it was dropping! It was scary," said Ashley Adkins, 8, a third-grade student.

The student team is made up of third, fourth and fifth-grade students.

They meet after school to practice solving long-term and spontaneous problems with volunteer coaches Debbie Whitmire and Nancy Brown.

"You do the problems by yourself and they don't help you at all," Ashley said. "I like that no one tells you what to do."

They get to build sets, write scripts and think fast on their feet.

"It validates their creativity and their ability to work together as a team," said principal Karen Leonardi. "They are fantastic little people."




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