Odyssey of Mind Team Savors Final Year

Katherine Ly, Editor in Chief

Moraga Rotary Club’s Odyssey of the Mind (OM) team has earned a spot in the World competition in Michigan from May 24 to May 27 after placing 2nd in the state. The team consists of seniors Jake Oxendine, Kendall Schmidt, Andrea Calderon, Stone Mao, Bennett Coates, Maria Wong, and Michael DaRodda.

“It’s weird,” said Oxendine. “It’s kind of a bittersweet because we’ve been doing [OotM] f0r so long… This is our last performance.”

According to OM’s official website, “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.” Calderon said that OM consists of a long term project that teams create based on different prompts, and a spontaneous problem given on the day of the competition that teams have to creatively solve.

“We’ve been working on [the project] for a while. Regionals came and we got 2nd place, and then we fixed it until State and then we got 2nd place again,” said Calderon.

“This is my second time going to Worlds… so I’m really excited about it and I think we were all sad that this was our last year, so I think this will be the best way for us to have a good conclusion as a team and to make it this far again,” added Schmidt.

Calderon said that the team “tried really hard” on this year’s long term project. “I feel like State this year was especially memorable… We didn’t want it to be the end of the road for us. We were really emotional about it. This cannot be the end and it wasn’t,” she said.

For its long term project the team created a play about the link between mental illness and artists creating work. Calderon added that it had to include time travelers.  “I’m very happy with [the project,]” said Oxendine. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from the judges about how it’s really made them think.”

However, Oxendine expressed concern about rival team San Ramon Valley, which “came back this year” and has competed in Worlds “a couple of times.” He said, “We’re really excited about [placing 2nd] because last year we won 1st at the state competition. However, this year the competition was a lot harder… [San Ramon Valley was] the team that beat us.” According to Schmidt and Calderon, San Ramon Valley has been a top five team at Worlds while their own team placed 18th last year.

“This year, our goal is to do better than that, and based on where this team has gone in the past and how close we are to [San Ramon Valley] I think it’s definitely possible,” Oxendine said.

Schmidt emphasized that the team “did so much work” to improve their project after Regionals and State. “After Regionals, usually we take a break and maybe do a couple things a little bit, but this ear it was just nonstop after Regionals, meeting basically every day,” she said.

On the other hand, Oxendine said that this year the team was more laid back.

“This year we’ve been focused on having fun with [the project.] We’ve been meeting a lot more, but at the meetings we’ve had a little bit more distraction. We definitely wanted to succeed, but last year we had everthing ready for the Regional competion and this year we were kind of like ‘Eh, we can leave it for state,'” said Oxendine. “It was definitely more competitive and definitely we focused a lot harder on it, but we still had a lot of fun and a lot relxation.”

“I think I just want to emphasize that [OotM is] like a family and that if anyone else wants to do it, I encourage them to do it because even if they’re skeptical about it. For sure do it because it was one of the best experiences of my high school,” said Calderon.

Schmidt added, “I agree with that and I think the program itself is amazing and it’s so much fun to go to competitions and see everybody of different age groups and all the different projects and the work put into them.”

“You get weirdly into it,” said Calderon.