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East Lake Stretches Minds

A group of East Lake Elementary students recently took their agile minds on a creative odyssey.

Youngsters Joseph Belfiore, Alex Lawless, Julia Mauro, James Murphy, Katie Smith and Christian Snyder placed second overall in their division as part of the Odyssey of the Mind Competition. The children, members of the Magnet Gifted and Talented, competed against seventh and eight graders in the regional competition held March 1.

The students’ Magnet teacher and Odyssey coach Lisa Gennardo said the children competed in the creative program to enrich their learning experience.

“Odyssey of the Mind is a competitive program, but it’s nothing like your typical sporting event,” she said. “The competitive element encourages kids to be the best that they can be, but it’s a friendly competition. Kids learn from and even cheer on their competitors.”

Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. Team members apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics. They then bring their solutions to competition on the local, state, and World level. Thousands of teams from throughout the U.S. and from about 25 other countries participate in the program.

“Odyssey is not a college bowl or a competition about knowledge,” said Gennardo. “It’s all about creativity, an often overlooked element in the growth and development of many students. Kids are rewarded more for how they apply their knowledge, skills and talents, and not for coming up with the right answer. In fact, in Odyssey of the Mind problems, there isn’t one right answer. Ever.”