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Local Students Shine in Odyssey of the Mind Competition

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On Saturday, April 6, 2019, a group of five enthusiastic students representing Hernando County took fourth place at the state level in the Odyssey of the Mind competition in Orlando. It was the culmination of more than five months of hard work.

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. Students from kindergarten through college participate in their respective divisions. Each team chooses a problem to work on and a project to resolve the problem in a creative manner.  

The team was comprised of Victoria Rooney, Savannah Smith, Emmalee Hunt, Robert Kordon, and Sky Verosic and ranged in age from 12 years to 14 years old. Parents Brenda Rooney and Cindy Smith were their dedicated coaches.

Since all the students shared a love of theatre, they chose a Classics problem in which they wrote and performed an original play based on work from classical literature, artwork, music, culture, or history. Specifically, they portrayed Leonardo DaVinci’s workshop. The students wrote a “Twilight Zone” themed play in which they traveled back in time to see Leonardo DaVinci work on his inventions. They built the sets, made the costumes, learned their parts and performed the play. Stage West Community Playhouse sponsored the team and the students used its facility to work on the project.

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Team member Savannah Smith commented, “The best thing about the competition was that the team became like a big family. I learned a lot about problem-solving. I learned about budgeting my time and my money. Stage West was so supportive of us.”

For 14-year-old Victoria Rooney, this was her eighth year competing in Odyssey of the Mind.  

“I feel like I made friends that I can have for the rest of my life. The way we really bonded together was just so memorable. It was amazing to see how well we worked together,” Victoria remarked.

On February 23, the team competed in the Regional level at Cypress Creek Middle/High School in Wesley Chapel where they placed second overall and advanced to the State Competition. They also received two special recognitions. One was the RANATRA FUSCIA AWARD for their “outstanding display of creativity throughout their solution and performance.”  The other was the OMER Award for their astounding teamwork.

“From the moment the team entered they were upbeat. Their positivity was infectious.  They worked well with each other and put on a great performance,” Coach Brenda Rooney commented.

After their stellar performance at the regional competition, the team advanced to the State level, which took place in Orlando on April 6. They placed fourth out of nineteen teams in their division. Although the students did not make it to the World competition, all five have vowed to come back as a team to work on next year’s Odyssey of the Mind.

“Their dream is to come back next year and be one of the 600+ teams competing at the World Finals,” Ms. Rooney remarked.

The enthusiasm of the students and coaches for the Odyssey of Mind project was reflected in the parents’ support and attitude as well.

Star Verosic, mother of Sky Verosic stated, “Her team and coaches had chemistry that truly makes this team a force to be reckoned with. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next year.”

Our community can be equally as proud of this outstanding group of students that represented Hernando County so well.


Leslie Stein
Leslie Stein
Leslie Stein has over 35 years experience as a Speech-Language Pathologist working with neurologically impaired adults. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of South Florida in Speech Pathology.
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