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On the Bright Side: Sidney Center to host 300 students in Odyssey of the Mind

By Mark Boshnack

About 300 students will converge on Sidney Center on Saturday trying to impress a panel of judges with their problem-solving skills.

The Odyssey of the Mind Region 13 competition will be held at the Harrold Campus of the Delaware-Chenango-Madison-Otsego Board of Cooperative Educational Services starting at 8 a.m., an organizer said.

Odyssey of the Mind state Director Jackie Otte said the competition brings together teams of up to seven students in three age categories, with Division I covering grades K through five, Division II being grades six through eight and Division III consisting of grades nine through 12. Students will demonstrate their solutions to one of five problems they have they have been working on since the fall before a panel of judges, she said. Groups will be conducting spontaneous solutions in private sessions.

"They are learning skills that will benefit them for life," Otte said. These include teamwork, decision making, brainstorming and time management. There will be about 45 teams in attendance, regional Director Stacie Haynes said.

Schools participating Saturday include Cherry Valley-Springfield, Milford, Norwich, Sidney, Unadilla Valley, Walton and Worcester.

The top teams in each age category will compete at the state competition, set for March 27 at Binghamton University in Vestal. State winners will then qualify to participate in the World Finals, scheduled for May 26 to 29 at Michigan State University at East Lansing, Mich.

Among those competing Saturday is a Division I fourth-grade team from Milford Central. Two of those working on a problem, titled "Discovered Treasures," said they were enjoying the effort.

The problem includes an original performance that portrays the discovery of two archaeological treasures, one from the past and one of a modern sculpture or structure that exists today but is discovered in the future, according to the Odyssey website. The group has done research on the Titanic ocean liner and the Empire State Building, members said.

It is hard work, Lauren Saggese said, but added that she has learned a lot.

"I enjoy working with my friends," she said, adding that she has been involved since kindergarten and has gone to the state competition once. So has co-coach Cinta Brennan's daughter, Grace.

"You have to work hard but it's really fun," Grace said.

Cinta Brennan said she has encouraged her four daughters' participation in the program by coaching a Milford team for eight years.

"It fills a void" by getting them to "think outside the box," she said.

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