Odyssey takes area team to world finals

April 12, 1997


Staff Writer

BALTIMORE - One team from Frederick County will represent Western Maryland in the Odyssey of the Mind world championships in June.

The Windsor Knolls Middle School team finished first in the Double Trouble Division II event Saturday at the state competition at the University of Maryland Baltimore Campus, according to Georgiana Keller, a Bester Elementray School teacher who is Western Region coordinator for Odyssey of the Mind.

Odyssey of the Mind competition fosters creative and problem-solving skills in children from kindergarten through college. The world champhionships will be held June 4-7 at the University of Maryland College Park.


Three other area teams, including two from Washington County, also placed in the state finals, Keller said. The Northern Middle School team from Hagerstown was fourth in the Heroic Proportions Division II contest, while the Boonsboro Middle School team was fourth in the Can You Dig It? Division II event. North Frederick Elementary School took fifth place in the Heroic Proportions Division I contest.

The Freedom District Optimist team from Carroll County, also representing the Western Region, placed fourth in its event.

"All of the teams did a great job," Keller said. "There was very stiff competition, with as many as 20 to 25 teams in some of the divisions."

Seven teams from Washington County took part in the state finals.

The teams from Funkstown Elementary School and Boonsboro Middle School unearthed some pretty clever plots and more than a little humor in solving the "Can You Dig It?" dilemma.

Each group had to create and present a performance about archeology that included homemade artifacts and acts that took place in an ancient time, and in modern times. They had to spend $100 or less on all their props and costumes. They had eight minutes to impress the judges.

Shortly before they were scheduled to go on stage, the Boonsboro kids had to quickly jot down cost of their clothing, which they'd forgotten to list on their itemized cost sheet.

Even when yard sale prices for their outfits were figured in, the group spent a total of only $80.25, well under limit.

The props were many, and included a homemade rain stick and "a sacred Holy Fish necklace." The kids used simple materials such as popsicle sticks, paint and cardboard to keep their costs down.

Team members Richard Windle, Nick Conner, Chris Wright, Claire Houseknecht and Kristin Houseknecht took to the stage, and impressed the audience and coach Katie Walsh with their performance.

"I think they did good," Walsh said afterward, as the judges questioned the kids about how they came up with their ideas. "They made some mistakes, but they went right on with it. And they had fun," Walsh said.

In another building on campus, just a few minutes later, the team from Funkstown Elementary School got ready to drag their large props onstage for the "Can You Dig It?" competition in their age group.

The kids cracked up the audience with their humorous skit. They said later they hoped they impressed the judges as much.

Amanda Guzick admitted she was both excited and nervous before the event, even though she was a relative pro, with three Odyssey competitions under her belt.

But Gusick and her teammates left their nervousness on the lecture hall stage floor when the performance ended. Outside, they were on a natural high.

"Did you hear how many people were laughing?" said an excited teammate Scott Stevens. Gusick, Stevens and fellow team members Aaron Morningstar, Scott Powell, Ryan Rau and D.K. Morgan said they hoped they made it to the world finals.

Coaches Pam and Dirk Newhouse were keeping their fingers crossed.

One of the team members said he was surprised they had made it as far as the state finals. Another said the odyssey were as much about having fun and spending time with friends as they were about winning.

As rain started to fall on campus, the North Hagerstown High School team of Todd Sturniolo, Mike Nunamaker, Jamie Rowland, Jason Rocco, Jason Karap and Richie Dean Sr. were running into trouble in the "Double Trouble" competition.

For "Double Trouble", they had to design and build a bridge of balsa wood and glue, and a load bearing structure designed to rest on the beam and balance weights. The trick is to balance and support as much weight as possible.

First, the team's bridge came in two-tenths of a gram over the weight limit. Coach Wayne Rinehart said the weight was fine Friday night. He and the team figured that the high humidity on Saturday had made the bridge heavier.

To get weight off, they took some off the bridge, which made it too short.

Team members said they did well with the style part of their program, and showed the judges a lot of energy.

Overall, though, not the best of days.

Meanwhile, in other areas on campus, two teams from Northern Middle School, a team from Paramount Elementary School and a second team from North Hagerstown High were also vying for a place in the world competition this sumer.

All the county teams that competed were winners in the regional tournament.

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