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Two local teams advance to Odyssey World finals

April 8, 2008 - 5:52PM

Two Yuma schools' teams will represent Arizona in the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals along with 28 other Arizona teams that qualified at the state tournament over the weekend.

Otondo Elementary School and Yuma Catholic High School will take part in the 2008 World Finals at the University of Maryland from May 31 through June 3.

The teams qualified after competing Saturday in the state tournament in Tucson, said Deanna Venditelli, western regional Odyssey of the Mind director.

Otondo Elementary took first place and Yuma Catholic second in each of their divisions.

Eighteen teams from Yuma schools competed in the state tournament, Venditelli said.

Teams were assigned one problem from five categories that needed to be solved using theatrical, structure, drama and technical skills, Venditelli said.

Teams practiced their solutions for months and those that placed first and second place advance to the next level of competition.

"They really have worked really hard. It takes a lot. We don't always have teams from Yuma representing Arizona so it is a big deal to have that," Venditelli said.

This year, the Yuma Catholic High School team had to solve the Eccentrics, a problem in which the teams use peculiar mannerisms and unconventional costumes in their three uniquely developed characters to solve it.

It is a problem sponsored by NASA and had "quite a bit" of competition this year, said Adele Hennig, Yuma Catholic Odyssey of the Mind coordinator and coach.

"They had to work extra hard this year, so they're pretty proud of themselves," Hennig said.

For world finals the all-girl Yuma Catholic team will be solving the same problem but also enhancing the solution they presented at state, she said.

"We look at what the judges liked and then what they didn't like ... then we go from there and we make things better on things that we ... didn't get scored as well on."

The teams will be fundraising to help pay for travel and lodging expenses at world finals.

"At world it's so much fun for the kids to be with kids from all over the world that have similar creative juices, and they're all really good kids," Hennig said.

Otondo school officials did not immediately return calls Tuesday.

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