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Bruin Odyssey team makes their mark at Worlds

Bear River Sophomore Arieal Swindell is the team captain for Odyssey of the Mind. Photo by Taylor Wohlgemuth

Odyssey of the Mind students have wrapped up their projects as the year comes to a close. Team Gato capped the year with a trip to Worlds, the last Odyssey of the Mind competition that gathers students from all around the globe. At the end of the competition, the Bruin team placed 21 out of 54 in their division and problem, according to the official Odyssey of the Mind website.

As of May 22, Sophomores Jacob Knox, Adam Merrill, Dominque Peter, Justin Roberts, Connor Ronka, and Arieal Swindell headed off to Worlds.

Their long-term problem, named “A Stellar Hangout,” revolved around “an Intergalactic Hangout where all sorts of creatures from different worlds stop, eat, refuel, and relax,” according to the official Odyssey of the Mind website. They presented a performance in which they included a worker character, entertainment, and a futuristic map.

Knox explained how his team solved their long-term problem.

“It was about a space cafe where different individuals met and mingled and consumed space salads,” he said. “And plants took over and they had to go kill it by feeding it a space salad.”

“Since they killed the plant, they saved the ecosystem and all environments to come,” Peter added.

There was approximately a two month time span between the end of the States competition and Worlds. Within that time, Team Gato made little to no major changes in their performance, but did change one thing. Peter explained what they strived to improve.

“I think that only thing that we completely changed was our mindset,” she said. “Right before Regionals, we were like ‘Oh, we’re not even going to go to States,’ and then, all of a sudden, we’re at States, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re going to Worlds.’”

Coach Jim Ronka commented on the performances he saw at Worlds Finals.

“What amazes me at every competition level is how each team’s performance presents a completely unique approach to the same basic problem requirements,” he said. “While the World Finals teams came to competition with extremely complex props, backdrops, and costumes, their solutions still reflected their own baseline interpretation of the same problem our Bear River students solved.”

Throughout the process of putting together their performance, Team Gato have made many different memories that will continue to remind them of their Odyssey experience. Swindell explained which experience she will cherish the most.

“My favorite memory from this year was definitely Worlds as a whole,” she said.  “It was such an amazing experience only a handful of people get to experience and it definitely was a memorable one.”

Odyssey members cited Coach Ronka as a huge factor in the team’s success. This year, he announced that he will be retiring his position to a teacher who is willing to put in the time and effort to keep this program alive.

Coach Ronka explained what he enjoyed most about coaching this group of creative students.

“I enjoy seeing the teams develop their collaborative problem-solving skills throughout the year and bond as a cohesive group working toward the common goal of preparing for competition,” he said.  

Knox provided their own opinion of taking on a new coach.

“It would be interesting, because Mr. Ronka has done a very good job so far,” he said. “I have no idea how our new coach is going to be like.”

As a final thought, Swindell explained why she joined and keeps on coming back to Odyssey of the Mind.

“If there is a program for a passion you have, you should get into it because it will be one of the best decisions you will ever make,” she said. “I take part in Odyssey because I love to come up with unique ideas and designs.”

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Bruin Odyssey team makes their mark at Worlds