Odyssey of the Mind team advances to World Finals

Students from Howard Drive Elementary School in Palmetto Bay won at the Odyssey of the Mind Florida State competition in Orlando on Apr. 6 after winning at the local Tropical Regional competitions in February. They are now in their final stretch and will compete at Michigan State University, May 22-25, with more than 800 teams from around the globe at the World Finals.

This creative problem-solving competition includes students from kindergarten through college. In order to compete a team chooses from a list of five problems divulged at the beginning of each school year and prepares a whimsical eightminute solution to present at their local regional competition and competes against other groups in their grade division. At the competition, teams also are presented a never-before-seen problem for them to solve spontaneously.

This amazing group of seven fourth graders assembled for the first time in September 2012, selected a problem and began creating. Add that the coaches are rookies to Odyssey of the Mind this year too, and this becomes quite an accomplishment.

Coaches Milton Todd and Lida Mari- Todd are parents at Howard Drive Elementary who organized and supervised this new and very hardworking team, the first at Howard Drive Elementary. Only four other teams from Miami-Dade County are competing at the World Finals and Howard Drive is the only elementary school representing the county.

The students from Howard Drive Elementary — Andres Laventman, Kennedy Todd, Matthew Lamas, Sofia Vinueza, Alex Eum, Leah Melendez and Savannah Cain — were stunned, elated and honored to win the highest score of any team in any problem on their longterm presentation at the State Competition.

Their presentation was judged on the creativity and artistic quality of the required elements and how they were incorporated into the solution of the problem. Many hours per week were dedicated to the creation, transformation and perfection of their eight-minute show which included an original story, set and costume designs, construction of props, live music, original lyrics, script, choreographed movement and performance — all done by them alone.

But the children’s creativity didn’t stop there. They also invoked their entrepreneurial spirit, when they decided to make original bracelets and sell them for $1 each outside their homes after Odyssey practice during spring break to raise funds and help pay for their expenses at the Florida State competition. They sold 75 bracelets across the week and were thrilled, but now they need to raise $1,200 each to get themselves and their props to Michigan and compete in the culminating phase of this competition — the World Finals — on May 22.

The team members are grateful for all the support they have received from their teachers at Howard Drive Elementary, their principal Deanna Dalby, their coaches and parents who have all supported the team and their efforts. They currently are attempting to raise funds to help them accomplish this final phase.

For information on how to support the Howard Drive Elementary Odyssey of the Mind team visit online at www.HowardDrivePTA.org or contact coach Lida Mari-Todd at Lidamt@gmail.com

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