| The Winfield Daily Courier |
State winners have to get back to work


First they put in weeks of difficult preparation, thinking, planning, time and energy to win the first place in the DinoStories problem at the state Odyssey of the Mind competition on March 29 in Manhattan.

Now the Winfield Intermediate School team of Emily Sarnacki, Jazmynn Burris, Ayla McClure, Jamie Wall and Christin Smith is once again faced with a task.

They want to travel to Maryland to compete in the World Finals of Odyssey of the Mind, and they have to raise the money to do so.

They have to transport not only themselves but also all the equipment for their presentation.

They must also continue to practice their presentation. Ever since qualifying for the world finals, the girls have been putting their heads together, brainstorming to find ways to raise the money to get to the contest.

All the girls are fifth-graders. Some attended grade school together, but some did not know each other very well. They admitted they picked each other as teammates.

Before Christmas the team selected the problem they wanted to solve from a list of five possibilities, and right after Christmas break, they started working on ideas.

The eight-minute presentation must be creative and humorous and have a model that uses technology. It must cost no more than $145 to create and it must have a theme. The theme chosen by the girls was pop culture. Part of their presentation included "The Molenator" (instead of the Terminator), a takeoff on "Whack-a Mole" and the "Wave."

"It was all a team effort," said Christin. "Everyone worked together to come up with the ideas."

"Our coaches drive us and make sure what we're doing is appropriate," Emily said, "but they don't really help us at all."

Coaches for the team are Mellany Sarnacki and Jane Bodman-Smith.

"Odyssey of the Mind is a great team to coach because if they have a problem of any kind, it really is their problem to solve," said Mellany.

The girls giggled as they remembered going dumpster diving, looking for materials for the background and costumes.

"We'd drive up and down looking for things to use," said Ayla. "We found some pipe that worked perfectly for us."

Rogene Frazee, gifted facilitator for USD 465, worked with the OotM teams every Tuesday and Thursday during school hours. The team also spent plenty of outside time working on their presentation.

Jazmynn talked about the sleepovers they had as they worked nights and weekends preparing for regional competition.

"As a stress reliever, we played Guitar Hero," she said.

They all confessed they were tired after school, outside activities, OotM practice and then homework.

They also discussed the spontaneous portion of the contest and how difficult that was to be creative and original as they each took turns answering the same question several times.

"It was hard to think of an idea someone else hadn't used. You really need to have more than one answer ready," said Jamie.

They agreed they were most nervous before the regional competition. They felt the state competition was easier because they were more experienced.

At the 2007 Odyssey of the Mind World Finals, more than 800 creative students from around the world - including the U.S., Korea, Poland, Germany, Japan, China and Mexico - competed.

When asked if they want to be in OotM next year, this year's team from Winfield responded with a resounding, "Yes!"

Beginning on Saturday, Odyssey of the Mind and the girls' skit will be broadcast on Channel 20 at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and at 4 and 7 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday for two to three weeks.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the team's trip may donate money to the USD 465 Foundation with Odyssey of the Mind on the memo line or mail to USD 465 Foundation, P.O. Box 211, Winfield, KS 67156. Donations made to the foundation are tax-deductible and would be greatly appreciated.

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