Friday, April 14, 2023

Windham Odyssey of the Mind team earns a spot in world finals

By Jolene Bailey

Coming in first place in their division, Windham Primary School and Manchester’s combined Odyssey of the Mind team participated in the Nor’easter Tournament at Sanford High School on March 25, landing them invitations to the World Finals.

Windham's combined Odyssey of the Mind team made up
of students from Windham Primary School and Manchester
School won their division in the state competition at
Sanford High School and qualified to compete in the 
World Finals in Michigan in May. From left are Colin
Miller, Ava Rhoads, Cora Miller, Omer the Odyssey Mascot,
Marin Miele, Bryn Johnson, Fynnleigh Mayo, and Celia
Odyssey of the Mind’s purpose is to educate all students how to use and develop their pure creativity to solve problems of any kind without fear or high confusion. When competing, the team’s goal is to fit all the required pieces into an eight-minute performance skit. From making props, to coming up with lines, teams do it all by themselves.

During practice, students learn and work on their teamwork and being a quick thinker. The strategy of being fast helps them in the long run with verbal and hands-on spontaneous problem solving.

Windham Primary School’s third graders and Manchester School’s fourth and fifth grades had formed a team of seven members to compete in the Odyssey of the Mind competition. The seven student members range in age from 8 to 11.

During these competitions, students can gain a sense of self confidence while grasping an emphasis on public speaking, teamwork, and time management, all of which are important skills, despite their age.

“They performed in the gym in front of a table of judges and audience. Once they completed their performance, we watched some other teams compete that had the same problem as them as well as some other problems. These kids always like seeing what other teams come up with,” said Windham coach Rebecca Miller, who runs this Odyssey of the Mind engaged team and guided their success in their division at the state competition.

Miller said that coaching the team was an enjoyable experience.

“I personally am really connected to this team, other than the fact that two of my kids are on it, I've coached most of them since first grade. So, they've been together and grown quite a bit as a team,” said Miller.

This is Miller’s sixth year coaching in Odyssey of the Mind. Before her, three Windham teams in the past qualified for the world finals. This year’s team will be the fourth.

“The best part of coaching is supporting them through problem solving and watching the super creative solutions they come up with. I can't offer any outside assistance, so what they come up with is all on their own,” said Miller.

With an experienced coach to lead them, this team has shown progress from as early as last year.

“The kids had high hopes as they got third place last year. This year, they were really anxious,” Miller said. “When they called third place, then second place, our stomachs were definitely in knots. When they announced we got first place, I was definitely crying tears of pride - they earned it.”

We all face decision-making every day and sometimes without even realizing it. Solving problems is a skill that anyone at any age has to conquer. For this team to be fully able to attend and participate in the world finals, $14,000 has to be raised for travel expenses, transportation, and registration for the team itself and chaperones.

Windham Primary School has supplied members with registration, t-shirts, and family participation. To raise money, the team has hosted a movie night and a community raffle to help reach their goal. Moving forward, they’re planning to host another movie night and more raffles and a color dash.

“These are ultimately community events that we look forward to having regularly to engage families in school all while raising some money to continue to support Odyssey of the Mind,” said Miller.

Since meetings back in November, this team has formed many bonds and memories in hopes to make it where they are today. Located at Michigan State University, the 2023 World Championships for Odyssey of the Mind will be May 24 to May 27.

To help the team through a donation, checks can be sent to Windham Primary School, Educational Way, Windham, ME 04062, or by sending an email to <

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