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Local Odyssey of the Mind team headed to world finals

By Staff | May 16, 2011

Three students from St. Andrew Catholic School will travel to the University of Maryland at the end of the month to participate in the 32nd Odyssey of the Mind World Finals with three of their teammates from North Fort Myers High School.
Odyssey of the Mind Coach Susan Dunkle said since the North Fort Myers High School team did not have enough members for their team, they decided to ask some of their theater friends from St. Andrew Catholic School to join the team. She said five out of the six members are Cape Coral residents and all of them are members of St. Andrew Catholic Church.
The team consists of freshman Noelle Aparte, sophomore Sara Daigle and sophomore Benoit Lemereux from North Fort Myers High School and 6th-grader Matthew Aparte, 6th-grader Bianca Dunkle and 8th-grader Blake Dunkle from St. Andrew Catholic School.
The team attended a regional competition in March where they placed third and in April they attended the state competition in Orlando where they qualified to go to the world finals.
The state competition was held at the University of Central Florida with 280 teams participating. Susan said the team placed fifth overall in the state competition because it went over on its time limit. If the team hadn’t gone over the 8 minute time mark, it would have placed second.
Although the team went over the time limit, the squad brought home the highest award in the state, the Ranatra Fusca Award, which is an automatic ticket to the world finals in Maryland. Susan said three other schools in Florida also received the award, two of which were also from North Fort Myers High School and the fourth was an elementary school.
“This is an amazing accomplishment,” she said. “Everyone is thrilled, not many teams get this award, so we are very proud of them.”
Bianca, who has participated in Odyssey of the MInd for five years, said she was excited about receiving the award because it meant that they were exceptionally creative in their problem solving, along with being a risk taker.
“It feels like you win the Olympics,” she said about the Ranatra Fusca Award.
Matthew said he is extremely excited about going to the world finals because this is the first one he has gone to since he began Odyssey of the Mind three years ago.
The North Fort Myers team created a tree for its problem, “Full Circle,” which showcases something changing in form and appearance at least three times before going back to its original form in the 8-minute skit.
Blake, who has participated in Odyssey of the Mind for four years, said he enjoyed building the set with wood, chicken wire and paper miche. He said the tree is 6 feet tall, 4 feet wide and 2 feet deep and hollow inside.
Bianca said green vines and newspaper origami flowers were also added to the tree. Fabric was almost used for the entire set to bring it to life.
She said their skit is a storybook setting of “The Morning Report,” which takes place in the rainforest. The six members take the audience through various points of view.
In order to show the points of view, the students created backgrounds that showcased a bug’s point of view, a squirrel and butterfly through viewing the set head on, which then changes to the top of the tree before it changes to only seeing the tree trunk and bushes.
Bianca and Blake began building the tree in November and finished in January.
Matthew said they also incorporated three songs into their skit that further explains what is taking place.
“Odyssey of the Mind requires the kids to solve the problems and build the props by themselves,” Susan said.
She said the team has been practicing since returning from Orlando, so the students can improve their skit to get the required time down to under 8 minutes.
Bianca said they can improve their time by cutting things out, setting up faster and losing dead space.
On May 2, the St. Andrew Knights of Columbus held a spaghetti dinner to help raise funds for the trip to Maryland. Susan said the dinner raised $1,416 to go towards the overall cost of $5,000. The costs includes registration fees, accommodations on the campus of the University of Maryland and travel expenses.
Another fund-raiser, a car wash, will be held at St. Andrew Catholic Church May 22, from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m., to generate more funds to go towards the trip.
Susan said they have also received donations from different organizations around town as well.
The opening ceremony for the world finals will kick off May 27, with competition following on May 28, 29 and 30. The awards and closing ceremony will be held at the end of the competition on May 30.