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Students flex their minds in Odyssey of the Mind tourney
Annual Odyssey of the Mind tourney draws 101 teams

BY NATE TAYLOR * NateTaylor@coloradoan.com * March 29, 2009

Matt Bartholomew went from a pastry baker who strikes it rich thanks to a lucky doughnut to an eccentric Frenchman in a manner of minutes Saturday, but for the 11-year-old McGraw Elementary student, it was just another year competing in the Odyssey of the Mind tournament.

Bartholomew and his team of five other classmates were among the 675 kids who made up 101 teams at the 22nd annual tournament hosted by the Poudre School District and held at Fossil Ridge High School.

The tournament challenges students, who often spend months preparing, to develop creative thinking and teamwork through eight-minute skits meeting creativity-inducing criteria.

And before he knew his team earned a first-place prize in its division, Bartholomew knew they were good.

"We're kind of pros at this," he said after performing with his group, five of whom have participated in the tournament together for the past three years.

His group incorporated superstitions into their skit, which was high-energy and involved numerous background and costume changes.

"We get to sprinkle in the personality of everyone into the skit, and it's a great way to work on teamwork," said Bartholomew's teammate, 11-year-old Rita Ramirez.

While Bartholomew and his team are becoming experienced veterans at the event, a group of rookie performers from Dunn IB World School ranging from kindergarten to second-graders performed a skit with a lesson about stealing.

Performing a skit that takes place in a candy factory, the group helped a candy thief learn to make his own goodies.

"This was the best play ever," said 7-year-old Isaac Radin, adding it was his first time to get to play a thief.

Added his teammate Noah Essa, who played a police officer, "It's the first time I've played a cop, except when I'm trying to catch my sister at home."

Another group of fourth- and fifth-graders from McGraw incorporated a talking, moving, carrot-eating remote control bunny into its skit, solving a "Teach yer Creature" problem, which earned them a second-place finish in their division.

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