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On The Bright Side: 2 area teams in Odyssey finals

By Mark Boshnack

Top performances at Saturday's state Odyssey of the Mind competition at Binghamton University earned two area teams the right to move into the final round of competition.

The elementary team from Bainbridge-Guilford Central School and a team from Cobleskill-Richmondville High School finished in the top two of their respective categories.

They will compete against teams from around the world at the 2009 World finals being held May 27-30 at Iowa State University, two involved with the program said.

Odyssey of the Mind is an international creative problem-solving educational program for students from kindergarten through college, according to its website.

The elementary team from Bainbridge-Guilford Central School earned the trip by placing second in the "Earth Trek" division, said team co-coach Nanci Miller.

Among the team's members is Miller's fourth-grade daughter, Abbi.

"I was really excited when they announced the winners," Abbi said on Monday. She was one of four returning students from last year's team, which made it to the finals held in College Park, Md., where it placed 15th.

"It's fun to meet students from around the world," Abbi said. Among the highlights for her was the trading of souvenir pins that each team brings with them. "I got quite a few," she said.

Abbi said she has been in the program for three years and it has been a good experience, helping with problem solving and teamwork.

Besides practicing, the team has to do a lot of fundraising to make the trip, Nanci Miller said.

Other team members are fourth-grader Kyle Rideout and Olivia Garror, and fifth-graders Emma McFee, Amanda Decker and Katey Frye.

The coordinator for the Cobleskill-Richmondville program is high school math teacher Tracy Smith.

"It was an awesome experience," when she heard the high school team announced as the winner of its "Lost Labor of Heracles" division.

Five out of six team members were at the finals last year.

Among the team of juniors is Genie O'Donnell.

"It's very exciting having a chance to go back," she said.

"We're hoping (with the experience) we have a chance to win," she said.

Her favorite part is working with friends to set a goal and finding ways to achieve it.

The team has a meeting on Thursday to discuss how to raise the approximately $10,000 that the trip might cost.

"We will need a lot of support," she said.

This is her 6th year with the program and "it is very rewarding to build something with your friends. When it works, it's really exciting," she said.

Other team members include Michelle Polizzi, Jared Barton, Jessica Wiltey, Lauran Mule and Maria Brown.

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