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Two teams from Washington Middle School, were very busy during their spring break last week. These students competed at Odyssey of the Mind State Finals in Flowery Branch on Saturday, April 10. They took 2nd and 3rd place in their divisions, advancing to World Finals. Both groups will compete at the World Finals Tournament in Orlando, Florida, this summer on June 11 and 12.
Odyssey of the Mind is an international creative problem-solving program that engages students in their learning by allowing their knowledge and ideas to come to life in an exciting, productive environment. Participants build self-confidence, develop life skills, create new friendships, and realize their true potential, according to their coach, Kimsey Hodge, who is also a 6th grade English Language Arts teacher in Washington Middle School’s Honors Academy.
“I have the best job and the greatest kids in the world to work with! Their dedication and creativity make the long hours we spend with them worth every bit of the effort and time it takes to coach such amazing young people,” says Ms. Hodge.
Team members have been working since the fall, initially meeting via Zoom due to COVID-19 restrictions. Beginning in November 2020, they began to meet in person and spent the next several months working together on a predefined problem of their teams’ choosing to solve – the LONG TERM problem – by writing a script, acting, creating the props, sets, and solutions with no outside help (including parents, teachers, or other students not on the “team”).
They then presented their eight minute solution to the problem at a virtual regional showcase competition, which led to competing in-person at State Finals.
They also participated in a virtual spontaneous competition two weeks before State Finals to generate solutions to a problem they had not seen before.
Assistant coach, Mandy Russo, says she is simply “…amazed at how the students used their creativity and imagination to solve and present their solutions to their problems,” and all of this while socially distancing and wearing masks.
“These students have worked so hard and have made me so proud to be their coach. Their creativity and ‘out-of-the box’ thinking make me feel excited and honored to be taking two teams to World Finals.”
Last year was the first year of Odyssey of the Mind at Washington Middle School.
Ms. Hodge credits her teams’ success to her mentor, Mrs. Sharon Cernergorsky, who started the Odyssey of Mind program at Scholar’s Academy in Thomasville, where Ms. Hodge also coached a World Champion team to first place at World Finals in 2019.
“Mrs. C’s years of experience, dedication and leadership to her teams have been so inspirational to me as a coach,” Hodge says.
The team will be fundraising to help with expenses involved in competing at World Finals. At this level of competition, teams from all over the United States and as many as 25 countries from around the world participate in World Finals; however, with travel restrictions due to Covid-19, foreign countries participation is uncertain.
The Odyssey of the Mind Washington teams are asking the community to assist with donations towards the trip fees.
Ms. Hodge says to send donations to Washington Middle School c/o OM.
Specific fundraisers have not been finalized yet, but donations are currently being accepted. Anyone wishing to donate may also contact Kimsey Hodge at email@example.com.
Grady County School Superintendent Dr. Kermit Gilliard reported on the success of the two teams to the school board Tuesday night and said he had invted the students to attend the board’s May meeting on May 11.
“We were very fortunate to have been able to hire Ms. Hodge. She is doing great work and to hear the students share about their experience is simply thrilling. I want them to be able to share it with you,” Dr. Gilliard told board members this week.