GoFundMe set up for Odyssey of the Mind teams!

April 21: Help send our Odyssey of the Mind teams to the World Finals!
Posted on 04/21/2023
Pictures of students


For the first time in nine years, West Irondequoit is sending a team to the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals. In fact, we are sending two groups – both from Iroquois Middle School – and having multiple teams earn a spot hasn’t happened since 2009! They will compete May 25-27 in East Lansing, Mich., on the campus of Michigan State University with traditionally more than 600 teams from around the globe and about 30,000 fans in the stands.

“It has been our privilege working with such talented students and dedicated parent volunteers (as coaches),” said Mary Beth Lenzi, who shares the title of West Irondequoit CSD Odyssey of the Mind Coordinator with her husband, Patrick.

“Over the years we have seen the profound and lasting impact this program has had on students, and we are so fortunate to have this program in our district. It builds confidence and independence because the students do all the work themselves,” Mary Beth added. “This year we were blown away by the creativity and hard work of all the West Irondequoit teams. We are especially proud of these two Iroquois teams, and we are excited for the enriching experience they will have at World Finals.”

Odyssey of the Mind (OM) is an international educational program for students in grades kindergarten through college (offered in our district for grades 4-12). It requires students to work collaboratively using creativity, ingenuity, quick-thinking and problem-solving skills. Those problems may range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics. Across our district, 119 students participated in OM this school year under the guidance of 39 volunteer coaches. Teams advance through local competition, six earned a spot in the April 15th state competition in Syracuse and two are on to the Worlds! Both feature seven students.

One team is all sixth-graders. “The Most Dramatic Problem Ever” team members are Anasophia Cartagena, Matthew Crane, Mitchell Getz, Conrad Kamola, Marta Kauffman, Peter Rinella and Oliver Sherwood. Coaches are Sarah Sherwood and Keri Getz.

The other Iroquois team is all fifth-graders. The “Because iCan” team includes Christopher Dys, Henry Elias, Joseph Giglio, Elijah Lineman, James Pittinaro, Henry Spencer and Finnean St. Croix. Coaches are Dawn Vogler-Elias, Andrea Giglio, and Patrick Spencer.

Success takes months of working together, often a couple times a week. Teams choose from five problem categories: Vehicle, Technical, Classics, Structure and Performance. The fifth-graders chose Technical Performance and sixth-graders chose Performance. One of their competition tasks also includes being able to think and work through problems spontaneously.

“They learn how to work together, compromise and really listen to each other even when they don’t always agree,” Mary Beth Lenzi said. “these are skills for life.”

Two West Irondequoit teams have been crowned World Champions and they happen to be the same seven students who won it all as Dake Junior High School eighth-graders in 2005 and then again as juniors in 2008. Their names: Keith Bull, Sarah D’Ambrosio, Matt Hoderlein, Laura Kieliszak, Allison Lenzi, Lindsay Taylor and Micah Wightman. Yes, Allison is Mary Beth and Patrick’s daughter and is now a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy.

This year two Irondequoit High School seniors were awarded Odyssey of the Mind scholarships. Nora VanDerMeid received the 2023 Julie Ryan Memorial Scholarship from the Greater Rochester Regional Odyssey of the Mind Association and Lauren Lamberson received the 2023 New York State Odyssey of the Mind Association scholarship.

When asked what it took to get to Worlds, a few members of the 2023 teams said it took creativity, teamwork, strong friendship, determination and perseverance. “Never giving up,” said sixth-grader Oliver Sherwood.

And, they said, it’s fun. Good luck, teams!

To learn more about OM, go to odysseyofthemind.com.

In case you missed it above, please consider a donation to help offset costs to send the teams to Michigan. Donate via this GoFundMe link

Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2023 SchoolMessenger Corporation. All rights reserved.