Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

River Ridge's Odyssey of the Mind teams prepare for regionals

The dry run came with the usual foibles: lines flubbed, props tumbling and backdrops that wouldn't stay put. But, as the saying goes, "practice makes perfect."

At the very least, it helps iron out some of the kinks, maybe sharpens those troubleshooting skills and gets the kids thinking a little faster on their feet — skills that might help propel a team on to world competition.

That was the hope of River Ridge High student Alyna Palubinskas, 15, who came to a recent rehearsal for Odyssey of the Mind team members decked out in the spider costume she whipped up using a thrift shop dress, a couple of furry black boas and a black widow-type hat made from a piece of window screen and a miniature pie plate.

"We've made it to state (competition) before, but we really want to go to world this year," Alyna said as she gingerly applied silver face paint on teammate Dylan Clark, 16, for his role as a talking quarter in the 8-minute "To Be or Not to Be" skit their team had created. "Hopefully, tonight we'll see what we need to work on and work any problems out."

That was the thought behind the Odyssey of the Mind Showcase presented last week by four of the six teams set to represent River Ridge Middle/High School at regional tournament on Saturday at Charles Rushe Middle School.

"We try to do this so that friends, family members and other team members who are not able to see the performances on competition day can do so on this evening," said River Ridge's Odyssey of the Mind coordinator Darlene Mauro, a past coach and parent of two former competitors. "It also gives the teams a chance to see how ready they really are for competition."

Especially since there's likely to be stiff competition come Saturday.

Some 177 teams from 47 local schools will compete in the regional competition, said Christine Taylor, a retired elementary school gifted teacher and past coach who serves as volunteer coordinator for the regional competition.

The international problem-solving program, which is open to students in kindergarten through college, offers teams of students the opportunity to give their own spin on one of five long-term problems. Each must follow specific guidelines, whether it be in creating a balsa structure that can hold great weight or crafting an 8-minute skit.

For instance, one skit might require some sort of trapdoor on their set, or come up with a unique solution to a problem one of the characters might have or an on-stage costume change during the skit.

Velcro, it turns out, comes in handy for that.

All are given a budget ranging from $125 to $145 for materials, costumes and sets.

"We do a lot of recycling," said Zachary Dyott, 16, who was playing the role of an International Topographic Magazine for the To Be or Not to Be Team.

Thus a yoga ball, some white paint and braided red yarn become a baseball costume for team member Justin Petralia, 15. Clumps of washed Spanish moss add some authenticity to 14-year-old Sarah Moyer's dust bunny duds.

On competition day students must also work together to solve a spontaneous problem, which represents a part of their total score.

"What I like is the teamwork that goes into this," Taylor said. "Students learn to work in a group and compromise. It stretches them."

"I've been doing this for seven years and it's extraordinary," Alyna said. "It really allows you to be creative."

Her mom and team coach, Grace Swanson, agrees. "You'll never get the glitter out of the corners of your house," said Swanson, who as team coach oversees students, but is not allowed to offer any input. "It encourages independent thinking. It teaches them that there's always a way to solve a problem with the materials at hand. Everything becomes a tool for their solution."


Odyssey competition

• The Gulf Coast Regional Odyssey of the Mind Tournament will be from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Charles Rushe Middle School in Land O'Lakes. The awards ceremony will start at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Center for the Arts at River Ridge in New Port Richey.

• The state Odyssey of the Mind Tournament will be from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. April 14 at the University of Central Florida.

• Odyssey of the Mind World Finals will be May 23-26 at Iowa State University.

River Ridge's Odyssey of the Mind teams prepare for regionals 03/06/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 5:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Encounters: Trial by storm for a rookie principal


    DUNEDIN — When he nodded off to sleep, the hallway lights outside Michael Vasallo's office were on, so the sudden darkness woke him.

    The glow of his desk phone dimmed.

    Michael Vasallo, right, the first-year principal at Dunedin Highland Middle School, talks with the school's head plant operator Clint Case near the back-up generator on campus. The generator failed just as Hurricane Irma passed through Pinellas County, making for a stressful night. The experience made Vasallo long to return to his regular job, educating middle schoolers. [COLEEN WRIGHT   |   Times]

  2. Who is in charge during a hurricane? Hillsborough County and Tampa still can't agree


    TAMPA — Who has the authority to order an evacuation during a hurricane?

    Mayor Bob Buckhorn says he has evacuation authority.
  3. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31


    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  4. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win


    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  5. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.