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Pennridge minds versus the world

By: Brendan Purves
There are the Olympics, the World Cup and the only slightly lesser known Odyssey of the Mind World Competition. Winners of these competitions can take home the ultimate prize in their field, and this year, a team of Pennridge seventh graders is hoping that, with a little help from the district's school board, they will win it all.

The Pennridge Board of School Directors gave the team of six students the help they needed when they voted unanimously to pay the $2500 registration fee for the Pennridge South Odyssey of the Mind team's entry into the World Competition during their Monday, April 14 board meeting.

The team of Penn South seventh graders won second place at the Southeast Pennsylvania Regional Odyssey of the Mind competition, hosted by Pennridge School District on March 8, won second place in the state competition in Altoona and are now preparing for the Saturday, May 31 Odyssey of the Mind World Competition in Maryland.

Odyssey of the Mind is a creative problem solving competition for students from kindergarten to college. Teams of six or seven students create a presentation over a five to six month period that will solve a problem that has been posed to them by Odyssey of the Mind. The presentations are eight minutes long and have been created without any creative assistance from adults, or exceeding a set budget of $140. There are multiple categories of competition ranging from interpretations of classic literature to creating a vehicle that can perform multiple tasks. The Penn South team, led by mother, coach and facilitator Regina Schrameyer, West Rockhill, undertook the vehicular challenge.

"The kids pulled it off perfectly." Regina Schrameyer said about the team's second place performance at the state competition. "Everything worked the way it's supposed to work. They (the kids) were jumping off the floor."

Regina Schrameyer's son Robert Schrameyer, 13, member of the Penn South team, said that as the team waited for the state results, a trip to the world finals seemed like it might be a long shot.

"Everyone was really nervous and crossing their fingers before the announced us for second place," Robert said about the excitement of the state competition. "It was a close call. We thought we would get third.

Only the first and second place teams are invited to compete on the world stage. Saint John Neumann Middle School, Williamsport, received first place honors.

The world competition will have two teams from all of the American states that competed as well as teams from countries around the world including Great Britain, Japan, China, Kazakhstan and Argentina.

The team, which consists of Robert, KJ Landis, Nick Russell, Anastasia Matz, Ella Fox and Hayley Fererichs, are planning to make some additions to their presentation, Regina Schrameyer said. They want to add music to a portion of the presentation as well as make additions onto the vehicle that has stolen the show at both the regional and state competitions.

Before the seventh graders get started making additions to their presentation they will have to raise the money to make it to Maryland.

Although the Pennridge Board awarded them the money to pay for the registration fee, transportation, food and lodging will all be expensive. They are planning a possible bake sale or a car wash, and will be asking local businesses to sponsor their trip, Regina Schrameyer said.

Although this is the first world competition that Robert will be competing in, he has been to the world competition before. He cheered his older brother Michael Schrameyer, 21, in the world competition once when Michael was in middle school and once when he was in high school. Michael Schrameyer brought home third and fourth place prizes.

Robert is excited for the challenge, and believes that the team has the ability to do really well in the Maryland competition.

"I think we will at least get in the top 20," Robert said about their chances.

Based on how well the Penn South team has done in the other competitions, Robert and the rest of the team may just be able to surpass the standard that Michael Schrameyer set for Pennridge students on the world stage in the Odyssey of the Mind.

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