During this week’s May meeting of the Spring ISD Board of Trustees, board members awarded Spring ISD Point of Pride awards to three district Odyssey of the Mind teams that finished in the top three for their divisions at the 2021 Texas Odyssey of the Mind State Finals tournament, held online in March. During the state tournament, the teams received the following awards:
- Dueitt Middle School, 2nd Place (Problem 3, Division II)
- Heritage Elementary School, 3rd Place (Problem 4, Division I)
- Roberson Middle School, 3rd Place (Problem 5, Division II)
“Although the Odyssey of the Mind program has a distinguished history going back more than 40 years, this is only Spring ISD’s third year to take part,” said Chief Communications Officer Sylvia Wood during her remarks at the meeting. “The competition is all about teamwork, quick thinking and creative problem-solving, and these students have learned the ropes fast.”
Spring ISD Director of Advanced Academics Tiffany Williams was also in attendance virtually to introduce each team and give a few details about the problems they worked on for the state tournament.
“Students choose one of five competitive problems to create an authentic product and present their long-term solution within an eight-minute time frame,” Williams explained. “Under the guidance of an Odyssey of the Mind coach, teams work on their solution within a strict set of criteria, including a defined timeline and even a financial budget.”
Coaches praised their students’ efforts and described their excitement for the Odyssey of the Mind program, which is active across the U.S. and in 25 countries worldwide. The Texas chapter has grown in recent years to 250 teams representing schools across the state.
“This journey has been an amazing experience for our team,” said Dueitt Middle School’s Odyssey of the Mind coach, Brandy Laney, whose team has received regional or state-level recognition each of the three years Spring ISD has been involved in the program.
The coaches also spoke about how participating in the program had helped students develop both teamwork and leadership skills that would benefit them in school and in life.
“I love seeing how, over the span of getting prepared for the competition, my students worked from start to finish as a team – being leaders and naturally knowing their individual strengths, and trusting one another to achieve the end goal,” said Sha Qwasha Barnes, coach of the Heritage Elementary School team. “I cannot be more proud of my team.”
Roberson Middle School’s coach, Annmarie Jamar, thanked trustees and the district for supporting programs like Odyssey of the Mind, and went on to explain that the students on her team had never actually met in person, managing their entire Odyssey of the Mind season this year online.
“When this started, they all kind of had big question marks: Am I smart enough? Am I creative enough? Am I brave enough?” Jamar said “Though these accolades are amazing and we do appreciate them with all of our hearts, I think, at this point, they really just want to hug each other, give each other high-fives and say, ‘Yes, we are smart enough, we are brave enough, and we are creative enough!’”
All three teams also qualified to participate in the Odyssey of the Mind 2021 Virtual World Finals, taking place during May.
Each team’s coach and team members are listed below.
Dueitt Middle School
Coach: Brandy Laney
Team Members: Andrea Chavez (6th grade); Natalie Hurtado (6th grade); Candace Lawrence (8th); Lilliana Silva (6th)
Heritage Elementary School
Coach: Sha Qwasha Barnes
Team Members: Kira Barnaby (5th grade); Eliza Carmouche (4th grade); Laureen Chimaeze (5th grade); Jeffrey Dubon (4th grade); Lionel Salgado (4th grade); Sofia Salgado (4th grade)
Roberson Middle School
Coach: Annmarie Jamar
Team Members: Martha Buruca (6th grade); Nadia Chavarria (6th grade); Yaselin Cinco (6th grade); Kendrea Fitzgerald (6th grade); Vibeth Hernandez (8th grade); Christopher Zetino (7th grade)