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Kellogg Marsh kids raise funds for trip to national Odyssey of the Mind competition

Kellogg Marsh students perform during an Odyssey of the Mind fundraiser at the Marysville elementary. From left are Andrew Burns, Dejavis Bosket, and Jasmine Ortiz. -
Kellogg Marsh students perform during an Odyssey of the Mind fundraiser at the Marysville elementary. From left are Andrew Burns, Dejavis Bosket, and Jasmine Ortiz.
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MARYSVILLE A troop of local brainiacs are on their way to the national competition for Odyssey of the Mind, a challenging test of smarts, creativity and talent.
About a dozen students at Kellogg Marsh Elementary School set the bar high by winning first place at regional competitions in Mill City, Ore. during March and are now raising $15,000 to pay their way to the finals at Michigan State University.
There are two teams of Kellogg Marsh fourth- and fifth-graders competing at the national level in a myriad test composed of intellectual and creative tasks. The Odyssey of the Mind is a long-time mainstay that is much more than a Jeopardy-type knowledge quiz and involves more than the traditional spelling bee or geography test. Teams of students create projects, write and perform skits and do many other complicated tasks without any parental involvement. They showed off their chops for family and friends last week.
According to Marianne Waite, who has taught both grades at the Marysville school for 15 years, her two teams fit the profile for the Odyssey with their bent for the unusual.
Thats a big portion of it, creativity, Waite said. Its not a quiz.
One of the KM teams included Jordan Bengen, a fifth-grader who said she was really nervous before the performance in Oregon.
It was really exciting, Bengen said. It was fun getting the crowd laughing.
Her team was reprising their short play using characters of different animals in a zoo to teach people not to take advantage of each other. In the play Bengen plays a lion who tricks other animals to do her favors and to give up their food.
I think our skit taught a lesson to not take advantage of other people or animals, said her friend Samantha Gibson, who played another lion on stage.
They were performing for friends and family at a dessert dinner and auction at the elementary school to help raise money for the trip back east this May. About 60 people were on hand for the dessert line, plays and silent auction, with gift baskets donated by local businesses and KM families. According to teacher Bobbie Mooring, the other team coach, the teams are halfway to their fundraising goal, with the help of many Marysville charities and benefactors. Mooring said she was skeptical early on that the kids could scrounge up that much coin, but later that night she told the crowd in the KM cafeteria that the kids have raised $7,824 so far with the help of their families.
Each and every day Ive been amazed, Mooring said.
Beth El Fattal was part of a troop of actors who presented a play that showed how to teach kids to solve problems by working together and building a team. Their hilarious concoction involved numerous changes of sets and backdrops as characters went Around the World in Eight Minutes. Fellow actor Michelle Deleon explained that their play showed that long-term problems dont often dont have a quick solution. The play took months of preparation, she added.
The kids really do everything themselves, school principal John Waldrop assured a visitor. The governing organization has strict rules to ensure students do the work, not parents. There are tight budgets for costumes and other materials, and teams have to show receipts for everything used in their projects It requires lots of effort, he stressed, but that provides a great bonding opportunity for the kids. Waldrop has taught in the district for 27 years and said Odyssey of the Mind used to be much bigger than it now is, with most schools participating in one way or another. He hoped it makes a comeback.
The whole thing is to require open-minded thinking and creativity, Waldrop said.
Mooring cited many local sponsors helping raise money: contributors include the Marysville Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs, Starbucks, Olive Garden and many other restaurants as well as Fred Meyer, Hometown Heating, Red Robin and Clear Image Studios, among many others. People wanting to contribute can call the Kellogg Marsh office at 360-653-0643.

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