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Windmill Point Elementary students win bronze medal in statewide competition

By Susan Burgess
PORT ST. LUCIE -- A team of six Windmill Point Elementary School students earned a bronze medal and trophy for a third-place win in Saturday's statewide Odyssey of the Mind competition against some of the most creative student minds in Florida.

"This was a huge win," team coach Robin Marmitt said, "Just huge. This was our school's first time in the Odyssey of the Mind, and I'd hoped we'd just place in the top five but instead we took third place."

In one of the three elements judges considered for each team, the Windmill students garnered the highest number of points of the 19 elementary school teams competing in their division.

The competition was held at the University of Central Florida's Orlando campus. Accompanied by Marmitt and fourth-grade teacher Sarah Robinson, some of the fourth and fifth graders gained their first view of college classrooms and dorms.

This promptly inspired them to begin making plans to attend college, Marmitt said.

"The students were really excited," she said. "This is a creative problem-solving competition and they did an outstanding job."

About two dozen family members and relatives came to cheer on the team.

In Odyssey competition, a team must choose one of five problems available to their grade level to solve in a creative way. Rules are designed to make students think hard. The solution must be presented in an eight-minute event.

Marmitt's team selected "Food Court" a problem in which one food is accused by other foods of being unhealthy, put on trial and a jury renders a verdict. The team acts out most of the parts. They also make the costumes and build the scenery.

In the play created by students, who worked 10 hours a week since November on their project, a twisted pretzel claims to have become twisted by slipping on a banana peel. Surprise testimony by Dr. Lollipop, a snack surgeon, makes the winning case -- which the students are keeping a secret for now.

"I learned to be loud and to be creative," said Hannah Cooke, a Port St. Lucie fourth-grader who said she is no longer shy and afraid to speak up. "In class, they always tell you to be quiet, but this has taught me I can think outside the box."

Ryan Keough, also in fourth grade, said he learned a lot about teamwork.

"Over time, I learned that your friends are always there for you. One time we were trying to attach strings to puppets and Colin was struggling with the strings," he said. "Max (Ernst) came over and he had an idea and we were able to attach the strings."

Other team members included Colin Strickland, also in fourth grade, and fifth-graders Ernst, Cameron Donth and Stephen Decant.

In February, the Windmill team won a regional competition which earned them the trip to the state contest.

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