When Linden Hill fourth grader, Joanna Lee, began the Odyssey of the Mind (OM) competition for the first time this year, she joined to have fun. She had no idea that her team would earn the rank of first in the nation and fifth in the world at the OM World Championship. Today, Governor Jack Markell and Red Clay Superintendent Merv Daugherty, honored the Linden Hill OM teams and program for their outstanding performances.
Lee’s team of six students and two coaches was only one of 308 teams who have participated in the Linden Hill OM program in the past seven years. Thus far, 2156 students and 616 coaches have participated in the Linden Hill OM program. Twenty-one teams have competed in the OM World competition traveling as far as Colorado to represent Delaware. This year the Linden Hill Unhinged Structure Team ( coaches Mr. Carp and Mr. Lennon) earned 1st place in the US for their spontaneous performance and 5th in the world for their overall performance.
Linden Hill Principal, Debbie Brady, attributes this amazing OM journey to the hard work of the many students and coaches who have participated over the years but particularly to one person, teacher, Janet Huckleberry. Huckleberry began the program as way to promote creative problem solving skills with her students. OM challenges students to develop lifelong, creative, problem solving skills to resolve open-ended problems. From structures to literature to vehicles, OM is a hands-on way to develop skills that Linden Hill students have taken with them as they have left elementary school for middle school and then high school. With Huckleberry’s help, Linden Hill alumni have started OM teams all over the district. Huckleberry’s influence has been so great that Principal Brady says she has been referred to as the “Johnny Appleseed” of OM.
OM coach and former Linden Hill parent, Beth Engler, remembers Huckleberry’s influence when she was a first year coach with her own children. “As a new coach, she [Huckleberry] held my hand, she gave me guidance,…she was a teacher like none other.” Engler comments that Huckleberry’s legacy transcends the elementary school experience to middle school and high school. “I moved up with my daughters to HB du Pont [middle school] where it was a different ballgame. There was no Janet Huckleberry there, but all the coaches at HB and now Charter were once guided by Janet’s influence.”
Lee and her teammates see Huckleberry as a facilitator and a cheerleader. “She helps us a lot, she helps us find materials and gives us pointers to make us better,” comments Lee, “…,but our coaches are the ones who help us act as a team.”
In his speech to the students, Governor Markell, recognized team building as an important aspect and benefit of OM. “To work in teams, and to use your creativity, to build things and to do all that’s involved, to work over so many months for a goal, it is an amazing thing,” stated Markell. As a parent of an OM’er, Markell recognizes the effort and time OM’ers must dedicate to the competition. From early October, Linden Hill students spend one to two evenings a week practicing. As the competition approaches, students and coaches may practice even more.
“There were times when I wanted to give up,” remembers Lee. “When I could not remember my lines,…I was so frustrated but my team helped me out.” Veteran OM’er and teammate, Sarvagna Kompella, gave some insight into how the team and the coaches help each other. “When we have a problem, the coaches put decisions up to a vote.” She went on to describe how one decision was made by listing all of the possible outcomes to a problem on a blackboard and then voting on the best solution. “That way each person’s voice was heard,” remarked Kompella.
Teamwork is a highly valued skill for OM competition but so is fair play and equity. Kompella and Lee were very appreciative of the attention by district and state officials but were more impressed that all of the members of the Linden Hill OM community were honored. “What I liked is that Governor Markell was here for all of the teams. He took pictures with everyone,” commented Kompella. Lee was appreciative that the Governor remembered how critical parents are to success. “What he [Markell] said was true. Our parents support us a lot.”
Now, after all of the accolades have been presented, pictures taken, and banners hung, Joanna Lee has time to reflect on the experience. “After going to Worlds, I want to do this for the rest of my life as a student,” notes Lee. “All the hard, hard work was totally worth it.”
Well Joanna and all the Linden Hill OM teams, you are in luck. Dr. Daugherty and the Red Clay School District has already included OM in the budget for Linden Hill for the coming year. Congratulations to the all the Linden Hill OM teams , past and present, coaches, past and present, and as always, Mrs. Huckleberry.
2010-2011 Linden Hill World Finals Teams
Unhinged Structure (5th Place at World Finals, and 1st in US)
Coaches: Tim Lennon and Ed Carp
Team Members: Tara Lennon, Connor Carp, Leyna Obara, Jacob Robinsion, Sarvagnya Kompella, Joanna Lee, and Thomas Hearn
Mouse Mobiles (15th place at World Finals)
Coaches: Seema Jain and Sudha Srinivasan
Team Members: Jinay Jain, Swara Sakerwala, Raul Jayesh, Rishith Ramamurthy, Harshitha Henry, Shifa Gawandi, Keshav Kotteswaran
2010 -2011 Linden Hill Odyssey of the Mind Teams
Full Circle (1st Place at the River Regional Tournament)
Coaches: Stephanie Barry and Theresa DiSabatino
Team Members: Nicky Barry, Louis DiSabatino, Olivia Brubaker, Seth Immediato, Isabella Pullaro, Swetha Gopal, Shreyas Ravichandar
Le’ Tour Guide (2nd Place at the River Regional Tournament)
Coach: Vicenza Pilla
Team Members: Nikki Pilla, Amanda Kang, Hardee Bhavsar, Sam Bernart, Nate Bernart, Cody Brainard, Ansley Blanchard
As Good as Gold….Berg
Coaches: Paul and Connie Pratzner
Team Members: Molly Pratzner, Kyle Lank, Yean Son, Jake Stephan, Anya Sen, Conor Brainard, Becki Ryan
Primary Team 1 Money Maker
Coaches: Eve Wright-Sanchez and Deanna Blanchard
Team members: Veronica Sanchez, Eliza Blanchard, Riley Stephan, Elizabeth Brubaker, Finn Pratzner, Jason Bernart, Marie Brainard
Primary Team 2 Money Maker
Coaches: Kim Colburn and Crystal Tran
Team Members: Tara Colburn, Alyssa Tran, Emilee Barniak, Abby Robinson, Daniel Lee, Emma McKinley, Akaash Mahinth