OMers tackle state, head to Worlds


On Saturday March 13, our county’s two Odyssey of the Mind teams competed at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando for the state finals.

The first team from Franklin County is the middle school team from the Apalachicola Bay Charter School, which has sent Odyssey teams to the state finals every year since 2017, excluding last year when the event was canceled due to the pandemic.

The second team from Franklin County, sponsored by the Apalachicola Volunteer Fire Department auxiliary is made up of students from both Port St Joe and Franklin County high schools. The two teams are coached by Tara Ward, Dawn Pharr, and Marisa Getter.

In Odyssey of the Mind, students must use their creativity and ingenuity to solve problems, which are broken down into two categories: long-term and spontaneous.

In long term, teams choose a problem at the start of the year with a certain theme and specific guidelines on which the teams will be scored. The teams then work on their solution throughout the year, and they perform their solution at the competition.

In spontaneous, team members are assigned a problem the day of competition and are given a short amount of time to come up with a solution. Odyssey of the Minders or OMers work together in order to make their ideas come to life.

Members of the ABC middle school team are Owen Juno, Conner Lolley, Maddie Lolley, Grady Pharr, Ryan Sandoval, Sophia Strickland, and Kate Ward. They compete in Division II, or in the middle school bracket. In their problem, “Super Hero Socks,” a skit starts with a cliffhanger “ending” only to be saved by magic socks. This team told their story through time, from Washington crossing the Delaware to last year’s toilet paper problem. They placed sixth in the state, scoring 270 points.

The Apalachicola fire department auxiliary team is comprised of Alex Itzkovitz, Maya Itzkovitz, Avery Pharr, River Sheridan, Wes Taranto, and Nico Valenzuela. All these team members are alumni of previous ABC School Odyssey of the Mind teams. They compete in Division III, or the high school bracket. Their problem is called “Virtual Odyssey” and it entails creating a performance where a character gets trapped in a virtual reality world and must escape a nefarious creature. The team chose to complete this problem in a steampunk theme and developed props to accompany the performance. This team tied for third place in state finals and scored second in spontaneous for their problem.

All team members are grateful to Florida Odyssey of the Mind Association for holding the competition this year and upholding safety measures to allow for it. Additionally, a major thanks goes to Orlando Mayor Jerry L. Demings for the discounted price he offered to hold the competition in the Orange County Convention Center. It is being planned for world finals to be held in Orlando, and all teams that competed in the state finals, including ours, are invited to Worlds.

If you would like to help cover costs for our teams as they go to Worlds, you can donate to “Apalachicola Odyssey of the Mind Teams” on

This article originally appeared on The Apalachicola Times: OMers tackle state, head to Worlds


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