Odyssey of the Mind encourages active and engaged students (Photo Gallery)

By Mike Taylor • Last Updated 11:23 am on Monday, March 26, 2012

Greenville Middle School students, from left, Megan Debri, Sam Linderman and Vincent Frank offer up their interpretation of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” during one of this year’s “To Be or Not to Be” performances. — Daily News/Mike Taylor


Odyssey of the Mind Region 13

Teams advancing to the state finals include:
Ooh-Motional Vehicle Div I: 1-Parkside Elementary School; 2-Cedar View Elementary School (Cedar Springs)
Ooh-Motional Vehicle Div II: 1-North Rockford Middle School Team A; 2-Breckenridge Community Schools
Ooh-Motional Vehicle Div III: 1-Rockford High School; 2-Breckenridge Community Schools
Weird Science Div I: 1-Cannonsburg Elementary School Team A (Rockford); 2-Breckenridge Community Schools; 3-Meadow Ridge Elementary School (Rockford); 4-Lincoln Heights Elementary School Team B (Greenville)
Weird Science Div II: 1-North Rockford Middle School Team A
To Be or Not To Be Div I: 1-Lincoln Heights Elementary School Team A (Greenville); 2-Baldwin Heights Elementary School (Greenville)
To Be or Not To Be Div II: 1-North Rockford Middle School Team B; 2-North Rockford Middle School Team C; 3-East Rockford Middle School
To Be or Not To Be Div III: 1-Evart High School
You Make the Call Div I: 1-Grattan Academy (Belding); 2-Murray Lake Elementary School (Lowell)
You Make the Call Div II: 1-Grattan Academy (Belding); 2-Greenville Middle Schoolool Team B
Odyssey Angels Div I: 1-Roguewood Elementary School (Rockford); 2-Cannonsburg Elementary School Team A (Rockford); 3-Walker Charter Academy (Grand Rapids)
Odyssey Angels Div II: 1-North Rockford Middle School Team B; 2-East Rockford Middle School
Odyssey Angels Div III: 1-Rockford High School

GREENVILLE — Electricity was surging through the crowded hallways of Greenville High School on Saturday afternoon — the synapses of hundreds of elementary, middle and high school students firing together to solve problems, find answers and create new inroads to learning.

But mostly, it was kids having a heck of a great time.

This year’s Odyssey of the Mind Region 13 Tournament brought together students from Breckenridge, Evart, Farwell, Greenville, Kent City, Lowell and Rockford schools as well as several area charter schools to compete with peers in a variety of problem-solving tasks. The problems and solutions came in multiple forms, from “tech stuff” to dramatic presentations.

Greenville fielded 13 teams this year, including five from the middle school, five from Lincoln Heights Elementary School and three from Baldwin Heights Elementary School.

The stated goal of the Odyssey program is to help students develop critical learning skills and — with minimal interference from grownups — come up with new and innovative techniques for solving both real world and abstract problems. However, its effects are often more far-reaching than simple academics.
According to April Milo, a Rockford mother with three daughters competing in this year’s Odyssey, the program helped bring out the best in her children.

“My oldest daughter used to lack self-esteem,” Milo said. “She didn’t have many life skills or much confidence. She’s done Odyssey from third to sixth grade. She was originally very nervous being in front of a group and was afraid to take any risks. Participating in Odyssey really helped bring her out of her shell.”

This seemed to be a common theme among parents and students Saturday. The stories of youths whose academic and social careers have blossomed at least in part because of their involvement with Odyssey were numerous and oft-repeated.

Megan Debri, a Greenville Middle School student, who was still glowing with excitement following her group’s performance in “To Be or Not to Be,” said Odyssey offers the perfect outlet to her many creative impulses.

“This is such a great experience,” Debri enthused. “This was my first time. It gave us a chance to come together and meet new people. It helps me to think outside of the ordinary stuff. I love to sing, play guitar, piano, banjo, violin — anything with strings — I get to do that here. I can definitely see myself doing this as a career in the future.”

While the program helps open doors for students like Debri, it also allows parents, such as Amy Lardie — who referred to herself as “just a mom” — the opportunity to see their progeny perform in front of a large audience. As any parent will tell you, this can be one of the most enjoyable moments parenthood has to offer.

“It’s fun because the kids make everything,” Lardie said. “They get to ask the coaches questions on how to model things, but for the most part it’s all about the kids handling things themselves.”

With so many educational opportunities being “downsized” due to scholastic budget constraints, Odyssey continues to offer students a chance to develop skills that will serve them throughout their lives.

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