Some of Newtown’s Odyssey of the Mind teams will be heading to a world finals in May after the 36th Annual State Tournament was held on Saturday, March 18, at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven.
Five teams from Newtown competed at the state tournament, and two are advancing to attend World Finals.
According to Odyssey of the Mind, it is the largest international creative problem-solving competition in the world. Odyssey of the Mind students team up, by grade levels, to solve different problems presented by the program each year. While each team is coached, no outside assistance is allowed from the coach, teachers, or parents in solving the problems, according to Odyssey of the Mind.
According to a release for the event, 160 teams from around Connecticut competed in the daylong state tournament on March 18. The team presentations were assessed by 212 judges. First, second, and third place teams from the state tournament advance to the 2017 World Finals, which will be held at Michigan State University in Lansing, May 24 to 27 this year.
Coach Carol Shuman’s Newtown High School team came in first place in its division. After school on Wednesday, March 22, team members met in the lobby of the high school and shared reflections of the state tournament, and hopes for the World Finals. The NHS team is made up of ninth graders, eleventh graders, and one eighth grade member.
“It was really fun,” said NMS eighth grade team member Jacob Shuman about the state tournament.
This will be the second time competing at the World Finals for Ms Shuman’s team.
Ninth grader Nick Preszler said he is looking forward to traveling and hanging out at the World Finals. Ninth grader Julia Shuman said it was nice to see the team’s work “pay off” at the state level.
The team members also said seeing team members from around the world and interacting with the other teams will be a highlight at the World Finals.
Other members of Ms Shuman’s team are Tristan Filiato, Rachel Tramposch, and Teddy Wojcik.
Coach Kristina Tartaglia’s Newtown Middle School team came in second at the state tournament, and this will also be her team’s second time attending the World Finals. Ms Tartaglia’s team also earned a Jill Riggles Award for Excellence in Spontaneous for earning a high score for a spontaneous problem at the state tournament.
Eighth grader Lenie Urbina said she was nervous before the team went on stage, but “We got on and we did really well.”
Team members agreed part of the state tournament made them nervous — especially when it came time to attempt to move a predesigned piece for one problem on stage — but they all had fun. The team also expressed excitement about attending World Finals.
The other members on Ms Tartaglia’s team are Joseph Tartaglia, Willem Doherty, Luke Sordi, Maddie Hintze, and Mackenzie Hughes.
Coaches Carolina Castellano and Kerri Jackson’s fifth and sixth grade team from Reed Intermediate School came in third place. Ms Jackson said on March 28 that her team will go to the World Finals if the first or second place team cannot attend the event.
“They did great,” said Ms Jackson. “This is their third year [competing.]”
Ms Castellano and Ms Jackson’s team members are Melissa Schnee, Olivia Guizzo, Emily Jackson, Grant Ricks, Paige Jackson, Eleanor Glassman, and Brooke Kinsey.
Coach Dione Sordi’s Reed Intermediate School team came in 13th out of 15 teams in its division at the state tournament. Her team members reported having fun at the state tournament and also spoke about working for months ahead of attending to solve the long-term problem for the tournament.
Fifth grader Aidan Sordi said he likes Odyssey of the Mind, “the whole concept of it,” because he likes the challenge of solving problems in special and creative ways.
Ben Almstead, Ellia Mason, and Julian Kessler are the other members on Ms Sordi’s team.
Coach Gioia Macy’s team from Reed came in seventh out of 11 teams in its division. Team member Arion Polozani, a fifth grader, said he felt exhilarated when waiting to hear the final results. Team Assistant Coach David Macey explained the teams are all graded on performance and on how they solve the spontaneous challenge at a tournament.
“I feel like we did better than we did last year and really put our minds into it,” said team member and fifth grader Kyle Ruddy.
Brady Macey, Dylan Macey, Luke Kellerman, Jack Chappa, and Alex Roman are also on Ms Macy’s team.
Both the NHS and NMS teams said they expect to schedule fundraising events to help team members attend World Finals in May.