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Wakulla Teams Qualify for State Odyssey of the Mind Competition

RES Team  RMS Team A  WHS Team   SES Team  WMS Team

Eight Wakulla County Odyssey of the Mind school teams qualified for State competition with their scores from Regional competition in Crestview, Florida on February 25, 2017. 


Teams from Medart Elementary, Wakulla Middle, Riversprings Middle (two teams) and Wakulla High (three teams) will now advance to State competition on April 8 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. 


The Shadeville Elementary Primary division team (grades k-2) qualified but they are not taking the team of all first graders due to their age in such a large environment.


Teams who qualify at State advance directly to the World Finals as representatives of the United States in international competition against teams from over 25 countries such as China, Japan, Australia and Germany.  Odyssey of the Mind World Finals will be held May 24-27 at Michigan State University.


These eight Wakulla Odyssey teams beat out teams from public, private, magnet, charter, and home schools in the Emerald Coast Region spanning from Leon and Wakulla Counties west across Florida’s panhandle to Pensacola in Escambia County.

Odyssey of the Mind is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1978 by Industrial Design professor Dr. Sam Micklus to encourage students to “think outside the box” in finding creative solutions to problems that may include technical, mechanical, communication, structural, and performance aspects.  In addition, teamwork is a key element to success.


This annual competition of thousands of international teams has limitations on money that can be spent on materials and restricts coaches and parents from solving the problems for their students.  All brainstorming, building, writing, sewing, and painting must be done by student teams.


There are five age group divisions:  Primary (kindergarten-grade 2); Elementary; Middle School; High School; and a college division that awards scholarships.


Wakulla High School fielded three teams, all led by Riversprings Middle School Associate Dean Nicholas Weaver who had coached two winning 2016 WHS teams while working at WHS last year.  All three current WHS 2017 teams qualified for State competition.


WHS Team A chose the technical category where they designed, built, and operated an original robot that demonstrated human characteristics when performing tasks.  Team members are Nathan Cushard, Jake Greene, Zoie Hill, Ally Harden, Russell Fleming, Abigail Gray, and Jay Jacob.  They ranked first in their division for their category.


WHS Team B chose the Classics category where they had to create and present an original performance about time travelers who explain how past works of art influenced the future.  This team consists of Shawna Gray, Giselle Almanzor, Shawntia Nicholson, Travis Morgan, Virginia Appleby, Makenna Callaghan, and Celestia Walker.  They ranked second in their division for their category.


WHS Team C chose the Structure category of designing, building and testing a structure made only of balsa wood and glue that balanced and supported as much weight as possible.  Team members are Devin Lehrmann, Carmen Zachry, Aidan Fox, and Zachary Boone. They came in first in their division for their category.


Riversprings Middle School Team A, coached by teachers Laura Hume and Jessica Yarbrough, chose the Vehicle category where they had to design, build and run vehicles that traveled different routes to the same location.  Team members are Legion Taylor, Ruby Sexton, Destiny Lamb, Luke Harden, James Thaxton, Troy Hallum-Kinsey, and Adam Sealy.


RMS Team A came in second in their division for that category. In addition, they won the Ranatra Fusca Award for Creativity in Problem Solving, one of the highest awards in the competition.


Riversprings Middle School Team B chose the category of Structure, also designing, building and testing a structure made only of balsa wood and glue that balanced and supported as much weight as possible.  RMS Associate Dean Stan Ward and teacher James Daniels coached Bailee Bendeck, Gabe Dutton, Annika Gunnarsson, Jayven Hearns, Xander Johns, and Hannah Vossler.  They came in third in their division for that category with enough points to qualify for State competition.


Wakulla Middle also chose the Structure category of designing, building and testing a structure made only of balsa wood and glue that balanced and supported as much weight as possible. Teachers Christina DeProspero and Mallory Harrison coached Keira Cushard, Andrew Buchleitner, Tristan Silcox, Kaydee Anderson, Johnathan DeProspero, and Chase Morgan.  They placed second in their division for that category.


Medart Elementary, coached by teacher Kendall Watson, selected the category of Performance with writing, producing, and acting. Their original play was put on by students Peter Arbogast, Matthew Ayotte, Maverick Stubbs, Zhaniya Reed, Parker Lawhon, and Kane Tucker.  They ranked in first place for their division in that category.


Shadeville Elementary fielded a Primary Team (grades K-2) coached by teacher Amy Seidler.  Their problem consisted of moving out of one place and into another, including student-made scenery and props.  Team members are Brian Ford, Gabe Davis, Emily Zak, Lyam Pugh, Savannah Giddens, and Gavin Mullins. They qualified for State but will not be attending. Shadeville also earned a Special Recognition award.


Other Wakulla teams who competed also made a strong showing at Regionals even though they did not qualify for State competition.


Crawfordville Elementary chose the Performance category where they created their own costumes and built all the scenery involving a superhero.  Teachers Heather Hatfield and Kirsten Brazier coached Ellie Hazen, Amara Cotroneo, Emma Larson, Aurora Epperson, Ian Wickham, and Jordyn Hatfield. They placed third in their division for that category.


Riversink Elementary competed in the Structure category where they had to design, build and test a structure made only of balsa wood and glue that balanced and supported as much weight as possible. The team consists of Taylor Thorne, Damon Rich, Presley Jones, Hallie McClintock, Genna Dietrich, Maddie Callaghan, and Justin Bowyer.  Coaches are teachers Melissa Martin and Katrina Roddenberry.  They placed second in their division for that category.


Qualifying for State competition is based on the number of points each team earns.


All the teams worked on solutions to their Long-Term Problem for months after school under the supervision of their coaches.  Many of the problems incorporate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills, with NASA usually sponsoring one of the five problems each year.


Additionally, each team had to solve a Spontaneous Problem that was given to them at the time of the competition.  Teamwork, listening skills, and creative problem-solving points all were added to their final score.


“The Wakulla Odyssey teams made a great showing again this year. This type of creative problem-solving and teamwork is so important for practicing the skills our students need to be successful in their lives,” says Superintendent of Wakulla Schools Bobby Pearce. “Thank you to all the students, coaches, and parents who make this activity possible. It takes a lot of hard work.”