Problem solving the creative way

Skaneateles Central School District will be well represented at the state Odyssey of the Mind competition.

Five teams will travel to Binghamton for the April 4 contest. On Saturday, 19 teams began their journey when they arrived in Auburn for the regional competition.

"They're very excited," program advisor Kelley McQuiggan said March 11 during the students' community program.

The community program is when all the students in Odyssey of the Mind, from grades three through 12, run through a dress rehearsal-type of presentation for family and friends.

"Skaneateles has a reputation of doing very well in Odyssey of the Mind," McQuiggan said.

The program is a "creative problem solving competition" and is participated in worldwide. Each year there are five problems set out for students to solve. Skaneateles has participated in the program since 1982 and McQuiggan has been coordinator for seven. Overall, she has been involved in various roles for 22 years, she said.

"Both my boys were involved," she said, adding that this is the first year she doesn't have one of her children in the competition due to a conflict with sports.

Of the 19 teams Skaneateles has this year, one group of students prides themselves on sticking together. For the last two years Morel Malcolm, Jeff Kringer, Sarah Tomlinson, Maria Schillace, Meghan Collins, Shannon O'Brien and Tori Field have chosen to team up.

All seventh-graders, the kids agreed that Odyssey of the Mind is a favorite pastime for them.

"You have to be really creative because you want to get the most points," Collins said.

And that's just what the middle schoolers did on Saturday as the Division II team earned first place on their problem "The Lost Labors of Heracles."

"It also has a lot to do with teamwork," Field said. "You kind of have to really work together, try not to get on each others nerves to get the problem done."

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