By Jim Krencik
Medina Journal-Register — MEDINA — Months of preparation paid off Saturday, as students from local schools showed off the fruits of their creativity and hard work at the Odyssey of the Mind event.
The Medina High School-hosted competition brought together 32 teams, including four from Medina. Odyssey is a student-driven project that includes both spontaneous and long-term challenges for teams of up to seven students.
“It’s all about solving complex problems in a humorous way,” said Medina teacher Katie Toub, whose fifth-graders finished second in the “It’s How You Look At It” challenge. “They write the play, develop costumes and sets ... we just tell them to keep going.”
Students tackled a variety of academic and entertaining challenges, like “ARTchitecture: The Musical.” The scenario incorporates songs, dancing and a story of classical art stolen and recovered.
Medina sixth-graders brought out all the stops for that challenge, with a moving set that featured recreations of classical art pieces, an egyptian room complete with hieroglyphics spelling out their names, and multiple song and dance numbers performed in wild costumes.
Teams at Medina tend to stick together, competing year after year despite drawing from different social circles.
“Once we started working together we became better friends,” sixth-grade team member Cora Payne, who decorated the team’s shirts the night before the competition, said. “We’re all in other groups but when Odyssey starts we all come together.”
The Medina eighth-graders who tackled “The Email Must Go Through” will stay together longer, as they qualified for the state-level competition. Also headed to states are teams from Lockport, DeSales, Roy-Hart, Niagara Falls, Lancaster, Niagara-Wheatfield and Buffalo’s Grabarz School of Excellence.
The sixth-grade team from Medina didn’t move on to the next level, but Lois Donovan’s students enjoyed showing off their detailed project. Donovan, who is retiring after 43 years at Medina, 26 as a Odyssey coach and judge.
“My kids did it when they were young,” Donovan, said. “It’s not work — it’s fun.”
Later, as her students unwound in a classroom, Donovan talked about a process that she won’t be giving up after this year.
“They made me sign a vow to come back to coach tehem next year,” Donovan said. She couldn’t say no. “It’s so rewarding ... and so awesome.”
Donovan’s efforts were spotlighted Saturday along with the championship teams. Tournament Director and eighth-grade coach Nicole Goyette said it’s a well-deserved honor.
“She puts 150 percent into everything she does,” Goyette said. “She gives her all to Odyssey. I’m not sure it would be (as successful) without her.”