South Charlotte

Odyssey competition gives students a taste of the world

Going global was the goal of seven girls who recently represented Community House Middle School at the 2011 World Finals for Odyssey of the Mind in College Park, Md.

The trip was memorable for a lot of reasons, including the opportunity to meet and watch other teams from around the world compete.

Of course, taking sixth place out of 64 teams in its division and participating in opening and closing ceremonies with 850 other teams wasn't too shabby, either.

"World Finals was a lot of fun and an amazing experience," said Elizabeth Moyer, a rising ninth-grader from Pineville. "It was fascinating to be onsite with people from all over the globe.

"It introduced me to different cultures. The opening and closing ceremonies were eye-openers that made me realize how lucky we are."

"We met a team from Singapore when we were unloading our props," said Disha Ratra, a rising eighth-grader at Community House Middle. "They had Harry Potter stuff to go with their skit, and some of our girls really love Harry Potter, so we started talking right away."

"We got to know them and went to see their competition, and they came to watch us," said Ratra. "They came to cheer us on."

Just like Olympic team members, some Odyssey of the Mind World Final participants collect and trade pins.

"Pin trading is a big deal at World Finals," said Janelle Deal, a rising Community House eighth-grader. "Pins are kind of the souvenirs because each one tells a story."

The girls met a team from China and traded their North Carolina T-shirts.

"I also traded signatures, cell phone numbers and Facebook info," said Deal.

The team also includes Colleen Carroll, Molly Warner, Sarah Martinko and Monique Porter. The team is coached by Janice Deal and assisted by Jenny Moyer and Michael Deal.

Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. Teams compete at four different levels, from elementary and middle school to high school and college. The goal is for teams to creatively solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics.

The CHMS team loosely interpreted "Moby Dick" in a skit rife with puns.

Capt. Rehab is on the run, and obsessed, after being attacked by a washing machine that agitated his leg off. To retaliate, Capt. Rehab grabs the first thing he sees, an old lint roller to use as a peg leg. The rest of the skit is about his adventures, visits to Ft. "Laundrydale," and then Mt. "Washmore."

"It took many workdays and practices until we agreed on the script," said Porter, a rising seventh-grader from Charlotte. "We worked like a tag team - each of us had our own little jobs."

The competition, held over Memorial Day, took place during a hot weekend, and there was no air conditioning in the dorms where the girls stayed, but that aspect made the experience more memorable for the girls.

"It was hot. It was sticky. It was amazing," said Martinko.