| The Abington Journal |
A mind Odyssey
AH teams compete in regionals

The halls of Pocono Mountain West High School were buzzing with activity Saturday, March 6, when the Northeast Pennsylvania Odyssey of the Mind Regional Tournament was held. Competitors roamed the halls in wild costumes and face paint. Others used hot glue guns, needle and thread and power tools to do last-minute repairs to their props. Twelve teams from Abington Heights district competed, made up of more than 70 elementary, middle and high school students. Nine of those Abington teams won first or second place, advancing to the State Tournament to be held in Williamsport April 10.

Odyssey of the Mind is an educational program that provides students from kindergarten through college with creative problem-solving opportunities. Teams apply their creativity to solve problems ranging from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics. Thousands of teams from the United States and about 25 other countries participate.

In addition to the Long-Term Problem which each team brings to competition, there is the Spontaneous Problem which is also considered in their overall score. The team does not know the problem until they sit down with the judges behind closed doors competition day.

"My daughter participated in Odyssey for years and credits spontaneous with getting her into medical school," Barbara Griego, Technical Problem Captain said. "All those years of quick thinking and creative problem solving were perfect training for her admission interview."

Some of the long-term problems which teams had to choose from this year included designing and building a human-powered vehicle and camper, balsa wood columns that would function together to support as much weight as possible, making and operating a series of aircraft that would complete a variety of flight plans, and creating and presenting a humorous performance where a food item is accused of being unhealthy and must defend itself among its food peers. "This is my sixth year competing and the first time we are advancing to states," Natalie Belknap, an Abington Heights High School freshman whose team won first place on the Food Court problem, said. Regional champions from Abington Heights, winning first place, include the following: The Abington Heights Middle School team of Jack Abdalla, Kevin Albright, Ethan Ross, Wyatt Sebring, Zack Smith and Stavros Tsaklas; The Abington Heights Middle School team of Michael Beck, Joe Fulton, Grace Hambrose, Emily Jonsson, Jared Levinson, Evan Phillips and Stephen Sokolsky; The Abington Heights High School team of Celine Brunetti, Evan Eckersley, Chris Ferrario, Patrick Lange, Jacob Ross and Taylor Ross; and the Abington Heights High School team of Madeline Belknap, Natalie Belknap, Ellen Brown, Kelsey Brown, Emily Davis, Brynn Kizer and Meredith Westington.

Second Place teams include: The Waverly Elementary School team of Luke Brauer, Angelo Fazio, Peter Gentile, Danielle Heine, Olivia Kerrigan, Nick Notari and Ryan Siebecker; The Clarks Summit Elementary School team of Alyssa Colomey, Sarah Hankee, Emma Marion, Molly McHale, Paige Morgan, Meghan Noone and Kelly Seechock; The Abington Heights Middle School team of Celeste Belknap, Cameron Buckbee, Tim Graham, Elizabeth Melliand, Corey Sochovka, Robert Swift and Chase Wickenheiser; The Abington Heights Middle School team of Daniel Habeeb, Timothy Habeeb, Curt Murphey, Bryan Melliand, Jonathon Ross, Drew Rothka and Andrew Wardach; and the Abington Heights High School team of Mark Dobson, Justin Goreschak, David Lange, Abby Valberg, Eric Wasser and Ellen Wildner.

Third Place teams include: The Abington Heights Middle School team of Courtney Bichler, MJ Jonsson, Sarah Jonsson, Austin Kohut, Jamie Kneiss and Victoria Munley; and the Abington Heights Middle School team of Elizabeth Bamford, Nicholas Beckish, Rachel Gilmore, Alanna Mecca, Jessa Sablan, Gabe Sallstrom and Erin Schumacher.

"I'm very proud of all our teams," Mary Beth Adelman, Assistant Regional Director said. "Saturday was a lot of fun. It was great to see the hard work, creativity, and team work that went into each team's solution. It was also nice to see the way the teams all supported, and cheered each other on!"

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