By Laura Jones

Celebration High School students participated in their first ever Odyssey of the Mind Competition this past school year.

Odyssey of the Mind is a creativity problem-solving competition consisting of two main components; a spontaneous portion, where teams are presented with a problem to solve on-site without prep time or prior information. The challenge may be a verbal problem (make jokes, create a story with all teammates, etc.), a verbal-hands on (typically involving a prop while also making funny statements), or a hands-on challenge (build a bridge, fish in a pond, make a tree, etc.) The second component is the long-term portion where teams prepare a short performance with props and devices that can be prepped ahead of time.

In their very first year competing, the team shined. The team placed first at the regional level blowing the spontaneous section of the competition out of the water. At the state level, the team placed second and received a Ranatra Fusca creativity award, double-qualifying them for the international competition. At World Finals, the team tied for fifteenth place out of over forty teams that were competing in the same problem, with over 900 teams in total from all grade levels and many countries.

The students begin prepping at the start of the school year and rehearsed throughout, adding and removing where and when it was necessary. They were super excited to have had such a successful first year and could not have done it without the help of Mr. Iriarte, who leads the Celebration High School Club.

The students solved “Omer to the Rescue, Again” where they had to build a vehicle that could be constructed and deconstructed and transported across the stage in a suite case, while also telling a compelling story.

“Omer to the Rescue, Again” was a Greek-style play (only eight minutes in length) and all seven of the team members had unique roles. The lead of Omer the raccoon, the mascot of Odyssey of the Mind, was played by David Cooley. As a compelling twist, Omer is actually the villain of the story. Adonis Lysandrou played the capable side-kick Adonis (demigod), Vivian Spencer played the wicked Medusa, Kevin Swamy played Hermes (the gatekeeper of Mount Olympus), Audrey Jones played the mighty Zeus, Sara Valencia played Hercules, and Trey Slaten narrated, delivering comic lines, setting up the story, and concluding it.

All the members were ecstatic to be first time competitors and to be invited to the World Finals competition. The team truly had a fantastic time bonding with each other and showing the world what they had worked so hard to prepare.

Thanks to the support of community organizations, including the Celebration Foundation, all members of the team were able to attend the event without having to worry about financing the trip. It was truly an amazing experience.