They’ve done the work and now the seven-member Oak Ridge High School Odyssey of the Mind needs help getting to the world finals in Michigan.
The international, creative problem-solving competition has been a part of millions of kids’ lives from kindergarten through college for the past 25 years. Students are asked to solve an age-appropriate problem, which is then judged on artistic ability, logic, technical skills and more.
Since September 2012, the Oak Ridge team — sophomore Sam Miller and juniors Daniel Fong, AJ Ives, Anna Lippuner, Miranda Miller, Sam Miller, Calvin Phen and Sam Schmall — have tackled the topic: The E-mail Must Go Through. They chose the American Revolution as their creative setting, dressing in period costumes like Betsy Ross for the girls and white, powdered wigs for the boys. They built a set and wrote the 8-minute skit, which must demonstrate their understanding of e-mail servers. Showing how a ball travels through a cannon as their e-mail and server analogy, they show that they do indeed understand.
The team’s interpretation and solution to a 21st century problem “clobbered the competition at regionals” earlier this year, said parent advisor Jim Miller. At state finals they missed first place by three points, but the top two teams get to go to the world finals held at Michigan State University May 22-25. Suffice to say, the team has worked hard to perfect their solution in preparation for the big stage.
This is the third consecutive year Oak Ridge has gone to the world finals, nothing short of “astounding,” said Miller. “I don’t believe any school in the area can say the same,” said parent advisor Sue Lippuner.
Approximately one-third of the 50 high school teams that will compete are from around the world, including Poland, Mexico and Singapore. The students have pen pals and friends they keep up with via Facebook from the past two years. “Meeting kids from all over the world is my favorite part of Odyssey of the Mind,” said Anna.
More personally, the academic team is a place to belong at school. “When I first started Oak Ridge I didn’t know that many people,” said Miranda. “OTM has allowed me to make a lot of friends.”
Despite being excited about Michigan, the team faces a setback. “The cost,” said Jim Miller. “The team’s families have spent nearly $14,000 to pay for Michigan, more than ever this year because of higher airline prices. For the past two years we paid for it all, but this year we’re finally asking for charitable donations to make this work financially.”
Tax-deductible donations to the team should be made out to: Oak Ridge High School by May 15. Put “Odyssey of the Mind” in the memo section of your check and mail to:
Oak Ridge High School, 1120 Harvard Way,
El Dorado Hills 95762
Attention: Stephanie Davis, Odyssey of the Mind