Wilton Schools sent three teams to participate in this year’s Odyssey of the Mind state competition this past Saturday, March 16 at Southern Connecticut State University. All three Wilton teams pulled off amazing performances, with one team winning the award for the competition’s most creative team–The Renatra Fusco Creativity Award–therefore qualifying for the Odyssey of the Mind World Championships to be in May at Michigan State University.

Odyssey is a program that defies a simple definition–it provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. Team members apply their creativity to solve challenges that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics. They then bring their solutions to competition on the local, state, and World level. Thousands of teams from throughout the U.S. and about 25 other countries participate in the program.

The platform also fits well with the ‘free play’ approach that the town of Wilton has adopted. Part of Odyssey’s methodology involves kids making all the choices as parents are firmly reminded that their ‘outside assistance’ is against the rules.

The state competition was the culmination of five months of hard work and preparation by the student teams and their parent coaches.

“We are very excited for and proud of these kids who’ve worked so very hard these last five months,” said co-coach Artie Rokkam. “We went to the award ceremony to cheer on all the winners, we didn’t think we had won anything, and then we were floored when our kids were recognized in this way.”

The Wilton team that qualified for the World Competition includes Cider Mill 5th graders Trisha Prabhu and Preeti Vijay, and Middlebrook 6th graders Afroz Ali, Kaamil Badami, Nandan Raman, Nathan Raman and Samar Rokkam.

First time coach Lena Booth, whose team is not advancing, said the experience was still incredibly meaningful for the students she worked with.

“I’m so very proud of these kids working together for the past five months on their own creative props, script, stage set, artwork and costumes… all were hand made by the kids! They learned a great deal and gave their best efforts. Although, we didn’t make it to Worlds this year, I was happy to hear that the team felt really good about their performance.”

Odyssey of the Mind is a volunteer-run program supported by the PTAs at Cider Mill and Middlebrook. This year an after-school club was set up and run by 5th grade teacher Kim Romero in support of the program, now in its 4th year in Wilton. The Odyssey competition began in 1978.