Mind trip: Riverdale team moves to next challengePublished 10:24am Friday, April 5, 2013
BY STEPHEN H. COWLES/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
COURTLAND—Riverdale Elementary School’s winning team for the recent Odyssey of the Mind competition is taking its intellectual journey one step further next weekend. That’s when the students will go on to statewide competition for its division in northern Virginia.
Riverdale had two of 100 teams that participated on March 23 at Menchville High School in Newport News. Capron, Meherrin and Southampton Middle School also represented Southampton County. Capron and Southampton each got third place in their respective division. Meherrin competed, but did not place.
There were five creative problems from which to choose, and teams picked their challenges when they registered several months ago, said Anne Marie Semple, Odyssey coach for Southampton Middle. She added that the students practiced after school and even weekends for about eight weeks leading up to the event. Each team had five to seven students, and the groups were divided by age.
Jody Saunders, who teaches pre-Kindergarten at Riverdale, was one of the coaches for the winning team, which chose “It’s How You Look at It” for its challenge.
This required writing and performing a skit with two different characters demonstrating behavior normal to them, but odd to others. Other skit requirements were to make a meter to measure the behavior; use of a creative scene change; and incorporate a piece of trash in a costume.
“Everybody contributes with everything,” said Abby Saunders, 11, who helped make costumes.
A participant in Odyssey competitions since third grade, Abby Saunders said she enjoys them as a “fun time with friends after school and being creative.”
Next Saturday’s state event will require the team to perform the same skit, but in front of a different group of judges.
“I think we’re doing to get at least second or third-place. Everyone else thinks first place,” Abby said.
At Southampton Middle School, Semple works with Jennifer Peace, who had asked her five years ago to coach with her.
Their team picked “ARTchitecture: The Musical,” a challenge requiring them to create an original skit that included musical instruments, singing and choreographed dance moves.
“We had to get pick a structure built any time from 1000 A.D. to 1600 A.D.,” said Taylor Cross, 12. The Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy was chosen. Then three art pieces – a stained glass window, a chandelier and a bell – had to be found and included in the tower.
“I was one of the assistants who moved from place to place in the skit,” said Cross, who’s in seventh grade, and also has been doing Odyssey projects since third grade.
“You really have to work as a team and be creative,” she added. “We did very well, I felt like. We placed third overall.”
“I didn’t have a specific part, said teammate Cameron Francis, 13. “Everything we did we decided and worked on as a team. I learned if we didn’t cooperate we’d lose together.”
The eighth-grader, who said she’s also been doing Odyssey events since third grade, added that this program has helped her in class work, creative thinking and doing projects as a team.
“Thinking outside the box,” said Francis. “That’s what Odyssey is all about.”
The girls said all the teams were also graded on a problem-solving situation given on site privately by judges. Coaches and parents cannot be used for assistance.
“As a coach, I could not be more proud of my team,” said Semple. “They juggle multiple and many extracurricular activities, including sports and involvement in church groups and still maintain honor roll and principal’s list grades. They are a caring, loving group of students that strive to do their best in each situation they are presented.”