By Bob Jamison

          Just when you might be thinking that some of the youth of today might be headed in the wrong direction, we suddenly find out that the high award winning group from Dayton’s Nottingham School walked away with international honors. And that isn’t easy when they are faced with competition from all over the world in a program called Odyssey of the Mind.

          It didn’t just happen either. It is in part, the dedicated veteran teacher coaches like Miss Linda Hohn, a graduate of Dayton High School and Lamar University and fellow coach Mrs. Ruth Deloney, a University of Texas graduate that were strongly supported by parents and other teachers. They no doubt instilled in these sixth graders creative and intellectual qualities that made them winners. They led this remarkable clan to Iowa State University to compete with many nations for high honors.

          Included in these vivacious victors are:  Mikayla Yates, Dillon Wood, Patrick McCracken, Claire McNair, Cameron Pike, Ravin Wilson and Jessica Hajovsky.

          Not only did they compete with equally talented youths from many nations but they ranked highest in style out of the top forty six nations of the world.  If that wasn’t enough, they also won eighth place out of sixty four teams for their presentation.

          When you meet any of these proud people on any occasion, sincere congratulations would certainly be in order. There is another facet toward a monumental score of accomplishment. They demonstrate the ability to communicate with kids their ages with friendly smiles and of course, the swapping of pins that represent the pride in their own countries. To accomplish this, a personal greeting is in order with an offer to discuss each other’s background and offer their own national pin as a gift of friendship.

          We sometimes wonder if our own diplomats shouldn’t try an approach to other countries and achieve as much success such as the Odyssey of the Mind representatives. We see an example of the adult world when our astronauts fly into space and meet up with the International Space Lab. And many of us remember the plight of Apollo l3 when part of the Command Service Module (their ticket home from the moon) blew apart. The world was praying for their safe return; and they did come home with the impromptu creation of events and inventiveness that made it happen.

          As a simple explanation of a complicated challenge, they were expected to react in a form of dramatic reenactment of something called “The Lost Labor of Heracles”. The title of that skit might set our own minds spinning; but not these kids. They began practicing their previously assigned twelve historic labors of Heracles and the “thirteenth” which was lost. This included perfecting the cast of Greek gods and goddesses, mythological creatures and plenty of classic art creations. With this drama and subsequently impromptu presentations of a subject only announced to them just before the performance, they still ranked well.

          Pride swells in our communities upon the return of these talented and energetic youngsters and instructors. As they enter the next phase of their education, they realize more than ever that life itself is a challenge and success is only limited to their creative imagination and dedication. With this in mind, they will forever recall the Odyssey of the Mind pledge. “Odyssey of the Mind is in the air, in my heart and everywhere, my team and I will reach together to find solutions now and forever. We are Odyssey of the Mind.”