NHS Odyssey Of The Mind Team Flocking Together Toward World Finals

With participation in the World Finals of Odyssey of the Mind before them, one Newtown High School team has been “flocking” residents to raise money to make it to Michigan.

Following the Connecticut State Odyssey of the Mind Tournament, held on April 6 in Bristol, five of Newtown’s participating teams made it to World Finals in Michigan, set for May 22–25.

Odyssey of the Mind is the largest intellectual competition in the world. Teams of up to seven students select and solve one of five long-term problems that they present at the annual state competitions. The top 30 teams in each competing state then head to World Finals, where teams from more than 30 countries come together in the spirit of international competition.

Overall, 12 teams from Newtown participated in the Connecticut State Odyssey of the Mind Tournament. According to Odyssey of the Mind Coach Robin Fitzgerald, Newtown was represented by teams from Hawley Elementary School, Middle Gate Elementary School, Reed Intermediate School, Newtown Middle School, and Newtown High School.

Both participating teams from Newtown High School will be heading to the World Finals, along with a team from Newtown Middle School and two teams from Reed Intermediate.

Coach Dawn Gray said her team, called Team Gray, has been behind the “You’ve Been Flocked!” signs and cardboard birds that have been set up in yards across town overnight for the last week or so. The effort is a fundraiser to help cover the costs of attending World Finals for the team.

“The competition was fierce as we competed against schools like Darien, New Canaan, Brookfield, Trumbull, Madison, etc,” Ms Gray wrote in a letter recently about her team’s involvement at the Connecticut State Odyssey of the Mind Tournament. “In the end [Ann Ziluck’s high school team] received a first place award and Team Gray received two awards, a second place, and an OMER Award.”

 An OMER Award is one of the highest awards the Odyssey of the Mind gives, according to Ms Gray, and it is for outstanding sportsmanship, exemplary behavior, and exceptional talent.

“Keep in mind all work is created by team members only, so just your high schoolers,” Ms Gray wrote. “Team Gray chose to leave the problem they were originally doing after the tragedy on 12/14, and instead created a performance that represented our town, NHS, and themselves. Although this is a performance problem, no real acting was needed as they got on stage and told their story about what it was and is like for a high school student… They received a thunderous standing ovation that seemed to last forever. The e-mails I have received from around the state are unbelievable. Many commenting that they never really thought about the impact on high schoolers and how much this tragedy has affected them.”

Now Team Gray is trying desperately to raise funds before World Finals in less than a month.

“Flocking has been a fun way to raise funds,” Ms Gray said. “We will continue to flock with the hope of being able to bring this beautiful skit to Worlds. This year for my team, the performance was not about the points or winning or losing, but it was about doing something that they needed to do to help the healing process.”

The students have been setting up the cardboard “flock” of birds at different proposed properties, and each resident or entity (The Bee was flocked on Monday, April 22) can pay to move the flock to another location, or to purchase cardboard birds.

Additional Fundraising

Another Odyssey of the Mind team, a Reed Intermediate School fifth grade team called The Dover Donuts co-coached by Daryl Maurath and Barbara Strashun, have also scheduled two car washes and bake sales to be held at Botsford Fire Rescue, 315 South Main Street, for April 27 and May 11, from 10 am to 2 pm, as fundraisers for that team to attend World Finals.

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