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Students Stretch Their Minds In Odyssey

Pig jokes abounded.

“To fee or not to fee,” Ham-let said. “Fee, fie, fo, fum, pigs in a blanket, yum, yum, yum.”

The remodeled tricycle was “chopped” to look a bit like a Harley Davidson three-wheeler. It was, of course, a “road hog.”

Following Mary Martin tradition, Peter Ham was actually a girl, Julie Hawker. Just to even things out, the princess - as in, the Princess and the Bean - was played by a boy, Kenny Zuchow.

Ham-let, Peter Ham, Boss Hog, Miss Piggy and the princess gathered earlier this week at Trent Elementary School, practicing for Saturday’s Odyssey of the Mind competition at Eastern Washington University. East Valley School District has two teams of elementary students competing. Teams from several other Valley schools will participate.

Odyssey of the Mind offers six problems from which students can choose. Judges look for creativity, teamwork and even humor. Entrants compete in age categories.

This East Valley team will compete in Amusin’ Cruisin’ - a category that requires they build a vehicle that will tour various attractions and solve certain tasks. The attractions must follow a theme - in this case, fractured fairytales, with an emphasis on ham.

At times Tuesday, the jokes came too fast for the audience to catch them all. The group had eight minutes to set up props and perform, but their first practice time was 5 minutes and some seconds. Their second was even faster.

Not all of the props worked, either.

“What happened to the wolf’s eyes, Adam?” asked one parent.

“I’m working on it,” Adam Rife replied, trying to get the eyes to light up.

Rapunzel’s hair dropped down right on cue, though, triggering a few bars from Hair, a trendy musical from the 1970s.

Team captain Jennifer Daniels, Rife, Matt Johnston, Kimberli Anderson, Kenny Zuchow and Julie Hawker have worked on the project since November. They’ve put in hundreds of hours, with the help of parents and teacher Jim Nelson.

Tuesday evening, Nelson reminded the kids that the judges could challenge them on any of their work - the sewing in their costumes, the design of the trike. Referring to Julie Hawker, who stands a head taller than her teammates, Nelson told this story:

“Last year when Julie’s brother went, a judge challenged us (over the boy’s age). And you don’t take the kids’ birth certificates to the competitions.

“So Brian’s dad stood up - and he’s six-feet-what?”

That settled the issue.

Nelson has seen a lot in 14 years of helping students with Odyssey of the Mind. He’s a passionate believer in the value of the program.

“The kids not only need to learn to solve a problem in a technical way, but they learn to work together,” he said.

, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: TEAMS COMPETE Odyssey of the Mind organizers expect the regional competition Saturday at Eastern Washington University to attract about 700 students. Competition starts at 8 a.m. There is no fee, but donations are accepted. Teams will compete from West Valley High School, Central Valley High School, University High School, Horizon Junior High, Greenacres Junior High, CV Able Learners at Barker Center, East Valley Planned Enrichment Program, Arthur Ness Elementary School, Pasadena Park Elementary School, Orchard Center Elementary School and Seth Woodard Elementary School.

This sidebar appeared with the story: TEAMS COMPETE Odyssey of the Mind organizers expect the regional competition Saturday at Eastern Washington University to attract about 700 students. Competition starts at 8 a.m. There is no fee, but donations are accepted. Teams will compete from West Valley High School, Central Valley High School, University High School, Horizon Junior High, Greenacres Junior High, CV Able Learners at Barker Center, East Valley Planned Enrichment Program, Arthur Ness Elementary School, Pasadena Park Elementary School, Orchard Center Elementary School and Seth Woodard Elementary School.

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