Michigan State welcomes Darien High School’s Odyssey of the Mind Program
NEIRAD enilno edition
Over the years, Darien High School has had many successful teams compete at the state and national level: boys’ and girls’ lacrosse along with boys’ and girls’ volleyball. However, one team that has been under the radar is the newly organized Odyssey of the Mind. After placing second in the Connecticut State Finals on March 27 the team hopes to add on to its successful run at the world championships in East Lansing, Mich. on May 27.
“I thought we did a great job at the Connecticut State finals and I can’t wait to see what we will do at Michigan State,” sophomore participant Caroline Farrington said.
For those of you unaware of the program, according to Odyssey of the Mind’s Web site it “is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. Team members apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics. Thousands of teams from throughout the U.S. and from about 25 other countries participate in the program.”
After many successful years of the Odyssey of the Mind program at Middlesex Middle School many DHS students wanted to bring it to the high school. Parent adviser Susan Farrington and faculty advisor Leon Strecker agreed to participate last fall officially, which officially launched the Odyssey program here on campus.
“It’s a great program that I am a happy to be apart of. However, I can’t take much credit for the team’s success. The rules of the program prohibit me from being involved with the kid’s skits, I am only allowed to tell them how to cut and assemble certain set pieces,” Mr. Strecker said.
When Ms. Farrington was asked why she got into the program, she said. “Odyssey is so rewarding for the participants. It helps kids work as a team, coming up with creative and humorous solutions to the problem they choose while helping them become adept at performing in front of small groups of judges. It really makes them think outside the box and they are rewarded for their creativity.”
The team consists of sophomores Alex Norelli, Caroline Farrington, Dillon Lareau, and Renee Hodenfield, along with two freshmen girls, Caroline Golino and Shruthi Raghuraman. In the midst of the team’s first year, they have already made history by qualifying for the World Championships.
In the first part of this year’s competition, students were asked to perform a skit, which dealt with a global issue. The DHS team’s skit was about an unhealthy food item. The performance was filled with dancing and singing. In this skit, a milk carton was being accused by a sandwich of being unhealthy, while the jury consisted of a vast variety of fruit.
For the second part of the competition, students were asked to participate in “Spontaneous Problem Solving.” The challenge was to come up with creative answers to certain issues. Caroline Farrington said her team worked on these skills for six months in preparation for the competition. When Strecker was asked about the team’s success, he said, “The unique thing about this group was how well they worked together. It was never just about one student, but the whole group.”
“I’m so proud of the team for all the hard work we had put in,” Ms. Farrington said. I can’t wait to participate in the World Championships this May, and hopefully take home a medal.”
However, there is one problem this team still hasn’t solved: generating cash. The recession is making it hard to raise money for the trip to Michigan State University. It costs $1,000 dollars for round-trip airplane ticket and hotel accommodations for each student and faculty adviser. The students have been able to raise some of the expenses; however, they are still in need of $2,000. The team members are holding a bake sale during lunch later this month. If you would like to make a donation, please mail a check made out to DHS (memo- “Odyssey team”) 80 High School Lane, Darien, CT 06820. Any donations would be greatly appreciated. If you have any questions, feel free to contact parent advisor Susan Farrington at firstname.lastname@example.org.From everyone at the Neirad team, we wish the Odyssey of the Mind the best of luck in their journey to East Lansing, Mich.