St. Gregory treks to Odyssey of the Mind world finals

BLUFFTON—St. Gregory the Great created its first-ever Odyssey of the Mind team this year, and they have blown everyone away by nailing down a spot in the 2015 World Finals.

The seven students whose intelligence and creativity made it all possible are beyond excited about, well, everything.

Some of them will be riding in a plane for the first time. Others are excited about seeing a college campus, or meeting people from other countries. A few said they can’t wait to hear their school name called out in front of all those people.

And there are a lot of people. Participants at the world finals competition — which is May 2023 at Michigan State University — include teams from about 25 countries, from Argentina to Uzbekistan, plus almost every state in the U.S., for a total of over 800 teams.

“There are more participants than in the Olympics,” said Diane Reilly, team coach.

Odyssey-catapultTo get to world, the team first had to win their state title. Each group is given a problem ahead of time, which they solve through the use of characters and by designing, building and successfully demonstrating various devices. The trick this year: everything was powered by rubber bands.

For example, one object the students built was a catapult to launch something to a specific spot. They said it took a lot of trial and error.

In the end, the kids came up with a skit that took first place at state, and they are looking forward to showing it off to the world.

Their play is a mystery set in the Amazon Rainforest. Teammates Peter Torinese and Austin Floyd play Dr. Am and Dr. Zon — at this point, the kids started laughing and interrupted themselves, asking “Get it? Doctors Am and Zon? Amazon!”

They laughed some more and veered onto how they made their costumes and props (nothing can be store bought) and the cool tools they learned to use (glue guns were not their favorite) before circling back to who is in the play.

Odyssey-prayerSamantha Reilly is the unicorn who doesn’t want her picture taken, Emma Puplava is a tour guide, Reaghan Evans is the paparazzi, Marbella Nungary is a news reporter, and William Lemire is Tarzan the mysterious narrator.

If energy, enthusiasm and personality are winning qualities, this team is a shoe-in. The kids said the process also requires creativity, teamwork, determination, compromise (rock, paper, scissors, shoot!) and, occasionally, bribery in the form of cupcakes.

“Treats make you work harder,” Austin said wisely.

“Like training a dog,” William added, prompting more laughter from the group.

In addition to presenting their play, which is the advance problem, the team will also have to tackle impromptu problems in several categories.

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St. Gregory and John Paul II schools have been working hard to raise funds for the trip and will host a car wash May 17 at the Lexus dealership on Fording Island Road.