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‘Odyssey’ team excels at creative thinking

From left, freshmen Arieal Swindell, Jordan Moore, Dominique Peter, Connor Ronka, Adam Merrill, Jacob Knox, and Justin Roberts pose with their Odyssey of the Mind backdrop and statues. Photo by Jared Pittsley

Bruins are ready to take their minds on an Odyssey.

The Bear River Odyssey of the Mind team took third place at the California State Competition on March 25. The team consisted of seven members who worked together on an eight-minute creative, problem-solving skit.

Odyssey of the Mind Coach James Ronka explained the purpose and standards of the competition.

“Odyssey of the Mind is a creative-thinking, problem-solving competition for students of all ages,” he said. “Teams of 5-7 students must select one of five standardized problems, create a solution, and then present their solution in the form of an 8-minute performance, complete with script, costumes, props, and backdrops. Problems range from technical to theatrical, but they all require the application of skillsets ranging from acting, writing, building, designing, art, and engineering.”

Bruins explained the standards of the performance in order to compete at the state contest.

“We had to plan and perform an eighth-minute skit with a budget limit of $800,” said Jordan Moore, a freshman.

“We had to fulfill the criteria of our problem, which was called ‘It’s Timer Omer’,” said Dominique Peter, a freshmen. “We had to incorporate the mascot of Odyssey of the Mind, which is Omer, a racoon.”

Members on the team explained how the program helps to improve their life skills.

“It helps you get creative in the sense of learning to build things and creating good friendships,” said Moore.

“(Odyssey of the Mind) helps with commitments not just for yourself, but also to your coach and teammates,” said Peter.

Coach Ronka explained how Odyssey of the Mind shapes his students.  

“Odyssey of the Mind is important to students because it teaches them critical skills that they will need when they graduate from high school, such as project management, teamwork, leadership, perseverance, and open-ended problem solving,” he said.

Connor Ronka, a freshman, described what Coach Ronka does to help out the team.

“He helps us stay on track and makes sure that our team does the problem correctly,” said Ronka. “He also helps fill out paperwork.”

Students on the team were very nervous getting ready to perform at the State Competition.

“The day before the competition it was a huge time crunch making sure that all the props and the skit were rehearsed correctly,” said Adam Merrill, a freshmen.

“It was nerve wracking and scary getting to compete,” said Ronka. “But it was awesome to see what other teams came up with about our certain problem.”

Peter felt that it was fun performing with the team and that the competition was a huge learning experience.

“I liked performing with the items we made and meeting new people from other parts of California,” she said.

Merrill loved working with his teammates because he has made long-term friendships that will last throughout his high school career.

“Our team does not have drama,” he said. “We get along really well with each other.”

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‘Odyssey’ team excels at creative thinking