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CJ Hooker team to compete in first-ever, virtual Odyssey of the Mind World Finals

Odyssey of the Mind encourages students to think outside the box so it’s no surprise that the organization was not deterred by the cancellation of the physical World Finals event, due to the public health emergency.

Creative minds at Odyssey of the Mind quickly shifted into high gear to reinvent the experience for thousands of students with a first-ever, virtual World Finals! And we proudly announce that a C.J. Hooker Middle School team will represent the Goshen school community in this history-making event!

group photo of Odyssey of the Mind team on stage, in their costumes.Just before the Coronavirus emergency was declared in New York state, Goshen’s team placed first in the regional Odyssey of the Mind competition. A group of mostly sixth graders competing against many eighth-grade teams in Problem 3, they stood out and earned the coveted Ranatra Fusca Award for exceptional creativity.

Well on track for a strong placement at the state competition and advancement to the finals, they took the cancellation news with heartfelt disappointment.

“I was extremely sad,” Nathan Hulse said. “Our whole team put countless hours into props, script writing, practicing, etc. It was especially devastating because we got the best score we’ve ever gotten, only to be stopped at regionals.”

When word came of the virtual alternative, the team enthusiastically decided to give it a try, with the full support of the Goshen School District.

“The preparation has been lots of fun and lots of hard work!” said Coach Heidi Seligman. “We’ve had to learn to navigate together as a team that meets only online.”

Fortunately, there was video of the team’s regional performance and they were permitted to submit it under the new guidelines, along with a seven-minute video featuring an up-close explanation of each graded element.

According to Coach Seligman, the team came together by contributing ideas on a shared Google document and recording their short supplements via Zoom.  Team member Isabel Barnhorst learned how to use iMovie and went into production mode.

“Isabel spent so many hours editing and adding in pictures and videos of our props, scenery, and costumes,” Coach Seligman said. “She sped up some features to show how our set transformed and zoomed in to show the incredible details of our ring master’s costume.  The end result is truly amazing.”

The team is also practicing for the spontaneous portion of the World Finals which will present them with problem to be solved on the spot, through video-conference.

Once all the scores are tallied, an awards ceremony will be live-streamed on May 30, and the home team will be there, virtually!

“We are so excited to be participating and grateful that Odyssey of the Mind came up with a creative way to salvage this year’s competition,” Coach Seligman said. “At a challenging time of life, the joy this brings to the Goshen team is priceless!”