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Top Dragon Team Places 5th in Odyssey of the Mind World Finals

Jun 10, 2015 09:02PM ● By Kevin
A total of 847 teams from 16 countries and 33 states participated in the world finals of Odyssey of the Mind, including a record 10 from Southlake.

The event took place at Michigan State University in East Lansing, where the top-placing Dragon team took fifth place in the technical problem. The Dawson Middle School Problem 2 Division 2 team was coached by Keith Buckley and Michelle Moore.

Southlake teams competed in four of the five different problem types: Vehicular, Technical, Classics, and Drama. In addition to solving both Long Term and Spontaneous Problems, the teams took part in the Creativity Festival, Float/Banner Parade, and Pin Trading to meet kids from all over the World. 

"Most of our teams stayed in the dorms and experienced 'college' life on the beautiful campus," a 
recent story on MySouthlakeNews said. "The students had a great experience."

Earlier in the year, the school set a personal record. On Saturday, April 11 Carroll ISD’s 19 Odyssey of the Mind teams competed in the State Finals Tournament in Houston. A record 13 teams received medals and 10 teams will advance to Odyssey of the Mind World Finals in May.

Two teams were awarded the coveted “Renatra Fusca” Award, according to an earlier story on MySouthlakeNews. The “Renatra” is the highest recognition of creativity in the Odyssey Program. The only two “Renatra” awards given at the tournament were given to Southlake Carroll teams. Congratulations to the Carroll Senior High Technical Problem Team and the Dawson Middle School Vehicular Team for extreme creativity and brilliance winning the “Renatra” Awards.

"It is truly an amazing experience for the kids I coach and on so many levels," said coach Brady Warner, who coached one of the Renatra teams. "Third place was amazing and devastating all at the same time. Some of my more experienced members knew that it meant that they did not make it to worlds. But at the same time the adversity they overcame to get to this point was amazing."

Many may not know the practice facility that Warner's teams practiced at burned to the ground at the end of January. 

"Everything was lost," Warner said. "This group of five 7th graders decided to rebuild so they could compete. They placed last at regionals, but still qualified for state. By the time state was here, they had rebuilt most of the sets, but did not have time for any rehearsals. They competed in state missing one team member, and no real run through and placed third. The Rentra was the 'Golden Ticket' for this team, and it was well deserved."  

The kids built a vehicle that was suspended under the track and it was propelled by an air cannon that shot a harpoon that went into a target net. When the harpoon was in the net, they turn on a motor that reeled in the harpoon line and pulled the vehicle to next station. 

"The creativity of how their vehicle worked with the track system is why the judges rewarded the Rentra," Warner said. "It is not like any other vehicle in any division they had seen. I wish we had pictures of their faces when it was announced, it will be a moment I will never forget. It made giving up 8 months of my weekends to coach completely worth it."

Shauna Newman coached the other Renatra team. She let her students do the talking in response to the prestigious honor.

"We love that we have placed at State for the past 5 years, but the recognition of our creativity with the Ranatra means the world to our team," they wrote. "It validates all of our hard work!"  

Participation was vast. Below is a list of all competitors in this year's competition:

The Division 3 World Finalist students are:  Braden Anderson, Jenna Buckley, Brandon Burleson, Michael Dachniwsky, Peter Lin, Mackenzie Murphy, Allie Newman, Claire Riordan, Nate Ruelas, Jack Veenker, Hannah Warner, Sarah Wassef, and Megan Yao.

The Division 1 World Finalist students are: Sophia Abiodun, Madison Bradford, Sarah Chen, Lissa Close, Gabby Dugger, Lizzie Garcia, David Guess, Alfred Hale, Alex Khazzam, Bella Khazzam, Lauren Lund,  Audrey Nelson, Payton Nickel, Olivia Pierret, Justin Sasek, Hutton Seltzer, Stephie Smith, Ryan Strange, Alysha Walsh.The Division 2 World Finalist students are: Arez Ariz, Reilly Buckley, Sarah Chapin, Rachael Clemens, Kiera DiCesare, Sophie Dietrich, Ella Driskell, Jenna Eads, Sam Fleming, Andrew Fu, Kayla Grosskopf, Kaitlyn Guesner, Chaya Hemanth, Olivia Hooper, Heloise Hoffmann, Emma Johnson, Kaylin Jones, Miranda King, MacKenzie Kormann, Abi Kumar, Eric Lovenburg, Jake Marshall, Zack Marshall, Logan Mikolasik, Chloe Moore, Katie Moore, Sydney Nickel, Cole Radsdale, Diana Shaughnessy, Kylie Swanson, Jacob Trexler, Coby Warner and Marissa Vazhappilly.

"Odyssey of the Mind has really grown in Southlake," said coach Kathy Marshall. "We had a record number of teams participating in our regional tournament this year (23) and a record number of Southlake teams advancing to state (19) and World Finals (10)."

Participation in Odyssey of the Mind helps kids to build skills that will be required in every aspect of their adult lives in a fun, interesting and challenging way, according to Diana DiCesare, a member of Carroll's Odyssey executive board. 

She said Odyssey teaches kids how to use their creative thinking and individual talents. Some kids excel at writing and focus on the script development, others are more technical and focus on building interesting apparatus’, and still others use artistic talents to design sets and props to solve the problem. 

The Southlake Odyssey program was started 15 years ago and has grown from only a few teams to 23 teams at the North Region Tournament this year.  

Many parent-coaches have multiple kids on teams and have a passion for helping kids learn how to solve problems divergently. Coaches include Carl Anderson, Keith Buckley, Ann Dachniwsky, Diana DiCesare, Inna Dietrich, Rosalyn George, Hilary Hale, Sam Khazzam, Kathy Marshall, Michelle Moore, Shauna Newman, Shelli Nickel, Charlotte Sasek, Dana Smith, Leah Swanson, and Brady Warner. Southlake Odyssey of the Mind is supported by our Regional Director, Cindy Featherston (RES Quest Teacher) who "has done an amazing job supporting growth of the program in Southlake."

"Southlake Odyssey of the Mind is excited for another successful year as we look forward to the summer break," the recent article concludes. "Be on the lookout for opportunities to be a part of OotM next year coming in the Fall."