First place OM team advances to state competition

The Williamsport Area High School Odyssey of the Mind team placed first at the North Central Regional Odyssey of the Mind competition on March 15 in Berwick. Odyssey of the Mind is an international program where students collaborate to develop creative solutions to problems. This year’s team consists of sophomores Max Moore, Sarah Turner and Arielle Roush; juniors Sophia Sprunger and Claire Milliken; and senior Riley Weber. The team is coached by Spring Moore.

During the competition, the team is judged on three components: long-term performance, style and spontaneous performance. The long-term performance consists of the team’s solution to a prescribed problem in the form of a skit. Teams choose from several different problems and must maintain a budget of less that $150 when preparing their solution and props.

The spontaneous performance is completely different and is not made public. Only five members of the team are allowed to compete in the spontaneous problem, but other members may stay and watch the spontaneous room. The team is given one of three types of problems: hands-on, verbal or verbal and hands-on. The team then receives thinking time. Teamwork and creative, quick thinking are the keys to success during this part of the competition. Creative responses and methods are awarded more points than ordinary responses and methods.

The long-term problem the team chose this year was “to portray a historically accurate court that predated 1800 and have the king give a decree, which impacted his people,” Moore explained.

They had other specifications for the skit as well, such as use of an artistic prop, a jester, two puppets and an instrument created and designed by the team that “made a noise.”

The team, who started practicing in October, had to accomplish all of this in less than eight minutes.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it in the end,” said sophomore Max Moore.

“Odyssey of the Mind takes so much dedication. An OM member has to be ready to endure a season that sometimes (runs) October through May, and even some 14-hour school days. Even with this being said, I will never regret participating in OM,” said junior Claire Milliken, who has participated in OM since fifth grade.

At the regional competition, the Williamsport team competed against two other teams in their problem and division, taking home first place and advancing to the state competition, which also will be held in Berwick on April 12.

In order to prepare for the state competition, the team will work to perfect their skit, fixing and adding props as well as enhancing their story line. If the team places first or second, they will advance to the world competition held at Iowa State University April 28 through May 3.

Last year’s team, many of whom are on this year’s team, advanced to the world competition where they finished 12th out of 56 teams in their division and problem.