Johnstown’s Odyssey of the Mind program is in full swing, with competition quickly approaching in March. This year Johnstown has 15 teams spread out between Glebe Street, Warren Street, and Knox Junior High.
Groups comprised of five to seven students have been meeting since October. They have been using their creativity to solve one of six Long Term Problems, spending months to create every part of an 8 minute skit. From the lines spoken, the props and scenery used, to the costumes their characters choose to wear, everything is created by the students on the team.
Each team has a parent or two that volunteers as coaches, but the students need to do all the work and come up with all of the ideas. The coaches do help the students develop team work and problem solving skills for the second part of Odyssey, which is called Spontaneous. At competition, each team will be given a secretly chosen problem that they must complete on the spot. These problems use hands-on, verbal, or a combination of both types of skills. The team’s score on this Spontaneous problem is then added to their score on their Long Term Performance at competition.
The Greater Johnstown School District, again this year, has more teams than any other school district in our area. This is the fourth year the district has officially participated in the Odyssey of the Mind program and it has made quite the name for itself in such a short time span. Last spring, a great deal of interest and support was developed when a then seventh grade Knox team advanced to the World Finals in Iowa. We are excited to have that team, along with many others, returning to the program as Odyssey of the Mind celebrates the 40th anniversary of it’s existence this year.
As some of our students were lucky enough to discover last year, one of the highlights of attending World Finals is the tradition of collecting and trading Odyssey of the Mind pins. Most states and countries design new pins each year for this purpose. Many revolve around a theme or the Long Term Problems of that year. Upon returning from the World Finals Competition, one of our own Johnstown Odyssey students showed her personal creativity by submitting pin designs over the summer. Eighth grader Maddy Connelie had her gnome pin set chosen as a winning entry and they have been produced as some of this year’s NYS pins. These collectors’ pins will be for sale at competition and Johnstown members can’t wait to see them in person.
The community is welcome to attend the free Regional Competition on March 9th at Fonda-Fultonville Central School. Families can come for a few hours or spend the entire day (8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.) watching teams perform their skits. If students are thinking about signing up next year, or parents want to know more about the program, this is a great way to get a better understanding of Odyssey. Many families have said they didn’t grasp the full scope of all that is involved, or what their child would accomplish, until they experienced our Regional Competition. It is also truly amazing to see what our Johnstown students can create when they are challenged!