St. John Neumann 3rd in OM World Finals

PHOTO PROVIDED An Odyssey of the Mind team from St. John Neumann Regional Academy placed third in the Division 3 Odd-a-Bot category during the World Finals at the end of the week at Michigan State University. The team, shown after the awards ceremony on Saturday, includes, from left, coach Keith Bauer, Kendra Snyder, Kaycie Gerrity, Raena Matz, Kirsten Hickey, Natalie Kolczynski and coach Kathy Bahr.

St. John Neumann Regional Academy’s Odyssey of the Mind team placed third in Division III, Odd-a-Bot at the World Finals in Michigan last week, with three other local teams competing as well.

“This is our 12th time consecutively that St. John Neumann has qualified for World Finals, so we’re very proud of what we have here and the creative minds we’re able to develop,” said coach and St. John Neumann Regional Academy Odyssey of the Mind program coordinator Kathy M. Bahr. “The students here have done an outstanding job year after year.”

Students Kendra Snyder, Kaycie Gerrity, Raena Matz, Kirsten Hickey and Natalie Kolczynski competed with the help of coaches Bahr and Keith Bauer.

“The time, energy and commitment they have for this program is very commendable. We were a small group, we only had five on the team,” Bahr said. “You can have a max of seven going into the competition. With only five, it made it all the more significant when many of the teams we went up against had the full amount of competitors.”

Bahr said that trading pins was a big deal at World Finals, so the team had a pin based off of Barbie, which was part of the all girl team’s competition skit.

“We had our own trading pin … it said to keep calm and Barbie on, and that’s what those girls did all the way through,” she said.

Bahr said that the team worked hard all year to compete at the top level.

“They were determined, and

they were committed. This was the icing on the cake, and this was the prize. It was well deserved,” she said. “I’ve been coaching for 15 years for St. John Neumann, and this is one for me that really goes in the record books as just being a really phenomenal experience from start to finish.”

According to Bahr, the team members were given medals and the school has a large trophy.

“It was just a great experience all the way around. It was a lot of fun,” she said. “Our school, our diocese is very proud of us and the work we put into this program.”

Bahr said the program offers great skills for the students competing.

“Everything they learn I really believe are life skills. The reason I continue coaching … is because I appreciate the value of the traits that we as coaches are able to teach the kids, like teamwork, responsibility, meeting a deadline and working with a budget,” she said.

Bahr said teamwork is one of the biggest components.

“Teamwork for me is the most crucial aspect of the program. If you can work together with the group to solve the problem creatively, then the lessons you learn and going through the experience will serve you the rest of your life,” she said. “We’re very proud at St. John Neumann to offer the program and have students who are so committed to this program.”

Three other local schools competed in the World Finals:

• Montgomery Area Elementary School placed 13th in Division I, “Ready, Set, Balsa, Build!”

• Williamsport Area High School placed 14th in Division III, “It’s Time, Omer.”

• Curtin Intermediate School placed 22nd in Division I, “A Superhero Cliffhanger.”