JOHNSTOWN — Seven teams from the Greater Johnstown School District were among the slew of local squads who qualified for the state tournament at the Odyssey of the Mind regional final held on Saturday at Johnstown Junior-Senior High School.
A total of 32 teams from eight schools took part in region 21 competition, with Johnstown and Northville teams advancing to the New York State Odyssey of the Mind Finals on April 15 in Syracuse at the New York State Fairgrounds.
Kristin Meashaw, the Johnstown district coordinator for the Odyssey of the Mind program, said the competition requires a unique blend of math, science and imagination from the student participants.
“Teams of five to seven kids work together from fall until now on a very complicated long-term problem,” she said. “They create all of the storylines, costumes, scenery and problem-solving activities to answer questions. They’re given a long-term problem and they have to come up with a solution for it in a creative way. They present it in a skit that can last no longer than eight minutes.”
Teams from Warren Street Elementary claimed first place in the Because I Can division one and the Most Dramatic Problem Ever division two categories.
A Johnstown Jr./Sr. High School team also claimed first place in the third division of the Pirates and the Treasure category, with a team from Warren advancing to states after finishing second in the second division.
The teams are not allowed to have adult assistance on the problems, though they have coaches to guide the groups’ practices.
“Everything is child-made and child-centered,” Meashaw said. “It’s outside-the-box thinking because there has to be a lot of creativity and it really challenges them to do things above-and-beyond than they might have tackled in the classroom.”
Meashaw said the district sponsors the program and pays registration fees for the local and state competitions, with fundraising money set aside if a district team advances to the Odyssey World Finals from May 24-27 in East Lansing, Mich.
“If we’re lucky enough to have a team that advances to world finals, then it’s all hands on deck raising money,” she said. “We always keep a pool going because Johnstown has had such great success.”
Teams from Warren also qualified with second-place finishes in the Wall of Troy and the Most Dramatic Problem Ever categories, with a squad from the Jr. /Sr. High School qualifying with a second-place finish in the Where’s the Structure competition.
Meashaw was unable to attend the regional tournament due to a death in the family, but the students persevered in her absence.
“I’m super proud of the kids,” she said. “I had an emergency and couldn’t attend, but I had a village of volunteers that stepped up to fill my shoes and make the event a great day for the students. I was on the phone and the computer all day long and I was absolutely thrilled with the way the Odyssey families, the students and staff at Johnstown pitched in to make it happen for these kids.”
Northville Elementary School took first place in the Pirates and Treasure division one, with the district middle and high school claiming first prize in Pirates and Treasure division two.
“We’ve had Odyssey of the Mind in Northville for 20 years and there aren’t too many opportunities to highlight our students’ creativity and academics,” Northville Odyssey of the Mind coordinator Shannon Thomarie said on Wednesday. “Often the focus is more on athletics, which is also a wonderful thing. But it’s really awesome to be able to highlight these kids and their creativity and their efforts in other avenues.”
All four of Broadalbin-Perth’s Odyssey of the Mind teams that competed in the regional tournament on Saturday, will be heading to Syracuse to take part in the state tournament.
During the regional competition, a total of six B-P teams competed, including two primary-level teams that are not scored. B-P was represented in four of the six long-term problems, including two teams that competed in Problem 4.
In competitions held a week prior, a pair of teams from the Ballston Spa Central School District took the top spots in the Classics — The Walls of Troy division one, as Malta Elementary School won first place and Milton Terrace Elementary took second as both teams advanced to the state tournament.
A squad from Milton Terrace Elementary also claimed first prize in Because iCan division one, while Ballston Spa Middle School won the Pirates and the Treasure second division.
Teams from Glendaal Elementary School and Orenda Elementary School both advanced to the state tourney after finishing first and second, respectively, in the Pirates and Treasure first division in the competition’s seventh region.
O’Rourke Middle School won the region seven Pirates and Treasure division two competition and will also he headed to the state tournament.