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Odyssey team prepares for state competition

Odyssey team members include: Katrina Brumbaugh, Annika Devendorf, Annika McDowell, Taylor Mosier, Madison Mosier, Sophia Luna and Addison Phillips. Katrina Brumbaugh, Annika Devendorf, Annika McDowell, Taylor Mosier, Madison Mosier, Sophia Luna and Addison Phillips. Photo submitted. (click for larger version)
April 11, 2012 - After taking third place out of 11 teams at the regional competition, the Odyssey of the Mind team from Orion Oaks Elementary is preparing to head to the state competition at Davenport University in Grand Rapids on April 17.

"Third place for a first year team who had no idea what to expect and to beat all the other school districts that have such a long history in this program was incredible," said Coach Misty Phillips. "I couldn't be more proud of them."

According to the website Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. Team members apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics.

Thousands of teams through the U.S. and about 25 other countries participate in the program and compete on a local, state and world level.

Back in high school Phillips competed in the Odyssey of the Mind program. Remembering what a good program it was, she decided to create a team with her nine year-old daughter and a few friends at Orion Oaks Elementary.

"I wanted to start it in this area, because there is nothing like it," she said.

The team is in the "Odyssey Angels" level where they have to create and present a performance where a group of students travel throughout one or more team-created places where they encounter negative situations. These "Odyssey Angels" have to change what they find and turn them into positive situations. On their journey, they help two individuals with different problems and help save an entire community from a bad situation. One Odyssey Angel cannot speak and another has a special team-created power.

Phillips said the program helped her daughter Addison not only learn team work and practical life skills, but encouraged her to think more broadly about problems and come up with alternative solutions for those problems.

Misty's friend and Assistant Coach Adrienne Luna agreed and called it a "fabulous opportunity for the kids to think outside of the box."

"Their entire lives are scheduled into rules and regulations. You have to behave a certain way in the classroom or you're right or wrong in math or science," saud Luna. "In writing you can express yourself but you have to work around the rule somebody else has set for you. This way when they go ahead and create these imaginary places they don't have right or wrong - it's out of the box and it's whatever they think, whatever they want to do. However they can mold and shape their ideas to make this result where there isn't anything binding them."

Luna's daughter Sophia really enjoys the program as well.

"I like working with my friends and solving the problems together with my friends," she said. "I like hanging out and all that stuff."

Both Misty and Adrienne are hopeful more students will join and more teams will be created after hearing about this year's team's success.

"It's just as important, if not more important than football," Luna said. "We're excited and really looking forward to the state competition."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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