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WM Montessori School victorious at Odyssey of the Mind Tournament

"Quick! Tell me all the things you could do with a paper clip. You have one minute - GO!"

Beyond the obvious answer of attaching papers, does your mind immediately go blank? Well, then you have obviously not been training for Odyssey of the Mind!

The elementary students of White Mountain Montessori Schools in Lakeside can instantly come up with a whole list of "out-of-the-box" answers to this and other problems. The students returned March 7 from the Northern Regional Odyssey of the Mind Tournament in Flagstaff with a first place trophy and second place trophy in their age divisions.

Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that teaches creative problem-solving and other very important life-skills to students from Kindergarten through college. Odyssey Coaches Amy Hanridge and Sarah Davies have brought this program to Adam Nolan's White Mountain Montessori School Elementary Class for the first time this school year.

"I was very impressed with how the Odyssey of the Mind philosophy promoted team work and problem solving skills," said Nolan. "It fit very well with the Montessori curriculum which focuses on building self esteem and confidence through cooperative learning."

The 15 6-to-9-year-olds learned teamwork, cooperation, original thought and a positive, "make it work" attitude. They visibly gained self-confidence as they explored brain-storming techniques in an atmosphere of respect where no answer was ever wrong or silly.

This Northern Regional Odyssey of the Mind competition marked the culmination of a year of hard work for the White Mountain Montessori students. Thirty-three teams comprised of about 220 children from all over Northern Arizona took part in this celebration of creative problem-solving.

Three five-student Montessori teams each presented a long-term problem solution in play form before a panel of judges and onlookers. In a separate private session, each team was also judged on its spontaneous problem-solving ability and teamwork.

Despite the competitive aspect, Odyssey competitions are friendly, happy celebrations of creativity and originality. Teams cheer for one another, as well as learn a lot and have a great time with other children their age.

The White Mountain Montessori students screamed with excitement and jumped up and down when the winners were announced. They proudly went up on stage to accept their trophies and ribbons.

The students all agreed that it was a very fun day. According to team-member Liam Stover "It was definitely worth the drive!"

Emma Ferguson proclaimed it "awesome!" The students, coaches, and teachers are eager to participate in Odyssey of the Mind again next year.

To learn more about White Mountain Montessori Schools and the programs it offers, visit the school web site at http://www.whitemountainmontessori.org/, or call (928) 367-1201 to schedule a visit. White Mountain Montessori is now enrolling students ages 3 through 9.

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