Happy Valley - 2006 Odyssey of the Mind

Odyssey of the Mind is a creative problem-solving competition for students from K-12 to college. Through solving open-ended problems, students develop creative-thinking skills that can be applied to real-life situations. Both Happy Valley teams took 1st place in their respective State level competitions and will be joining teams from throughout the U.S. and more than 20 other countries. "Jungle Bloke" and "Ancient Egypt" teams of the world, you are hereby put on notice: we're coming to Iowa.

We have 14 kids from 12 families, 4 coaches and equipment to transport and house for almost a week in Ames, Iowa. Each family is going to be paying about a minimum of $1,200 per child plus the coaches' expenses. We've set our fund raising goal at $20,000 to help defray the costs of this endeavor. On top of that are mounting expenses for transport and housing of supporting parents and siblings, it's not difficult to imagine this becoming an expensive proposition!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Odyssey of The Impressions

This is the last day of this years Odyssey of the Mind events. The Jungle Bloke team did their spontaneous problem. As usual we're not allowed to know any of the details about it but they came out of it smiling, so we're assuming it went well. We're still getting our pictures of the Ancient Egypt team together, here they are poised to begin their performance; the judges are in the foreground reviewing the team's documents. The Ancient Egypt story line was very clever, everyone who's seen their performance has been impressed by it.

The Ancient Egypt team member who played herself as an Egyptian museum curator and guide, stopped by as our guest blogger to offer her impressions of Odyssey of the Mind in Ames, Iowa.

Odyssey of the Mind has been totally awsome! On Thursday my team, Ancient Egyt divition 1, had our spontaneous problem. It went pretty good, though it could have been better. On Friday my whole team had butterflies in their stomachs because the long term problem was on that day, that fortunately went really great, the best we could have done.

Also on Friday I saw three international shows. Two were doing Jungle Bloke division 3 from Germany and Poland, and one was Ancient Egypt division 1 from Beijing, China. The two division 3 team's english was very good. The teams from China were speaking english but sadly, their accents were so strong you couldn't understand them. The costumes from all three plays were AMAZING! I personally liked the German team the best becuase there was a guy who played two flamingos that talked in rhymes. The flamingo's bodies were hanging at his side and his arms were the necks and his fingers were their heads.

Pin trading is a big part of the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals, but you have to buy the pins online, and (luckilly) everyone likes this years California pins. To trade you walk around holding a towel with pins pinned on it and you trade pins for pins that you like.

Maya, 4th grade, Ancient Egypt team
We'll be getting some more pictures of the Ancient Egypt team to post soon!

In the meantime, not everybody in Ames is happy to be hosting the Odyssey of the Mind world finals. A member of the information technology staff at Iowa State University has apparently had his world disturbed:

Today was just silly. This so called Odyssey of the Mind is visiting ISU and they want internet access. They're neither staff, student nor faculty, and they want internet access that we all help fund. So, whoever manages this thing made their own NetReg account for them. Legal arguments aside, OK. But since they don't pay for it, we can't help them if they have trouble. 3 days of this. Grrr. Arrg.
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I guess he doesn't know how much we've paid for these, um, accomadations. Soon enough he can have his network back to resume indulging in World of Warcraft (or whatever it is he'd rather be doing with it).

Then we have the superstitious zodiac enthusiast:

I really want to throw something at these Odyssey of the Mind kids who keep walking all over the zodiac in the MU. When they ask why they got hit with something, I'd explain its bad luck to walk on the zodiac. They wouldn't have had something thrown at them if they didn't walk on it.
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As our astute 5th grade bloke, Brendan, put it when I told him about this source of upset: why put a big zodiak on the Memorial Union's foyer floor if we're not supposed to walk on it?

The post of the week definitely comes from this disgruntled food service worker:

So I've had to work dining service the last couple of days while we've got Odyssey of the Mind going on here at ISU. Odyssey of the Mind is a competetive educational program, where really intelligent kids all around the world compete for who can solve problems the most creatively, or something like that. Anyway, aren't these kids supposed to be brilliant??? One of the goals of this event is to help students "learn at a young age skills that will last a lifetime." I guess none of these skills include manners, how to clean up after yourself, how to let a guy know if you want scrambled eggs, or how to get parents that push their kids too far to back off. Nor do these kids know that they do not need to stick their thumbs out for a bus. I've really gotten sick of these people. I've had to clean up after them the last couple days after they'd leave their food on their tables. Not on trays, or plates most of the time... and it really wasn't my job to bus tables, either. You take them to the belt, just like everyone else... These kids haven't quite figured this life skill out just yet, I guess. One of my favorite scenes from today was watching a bunch of them dancing around, all happy-like, playing with their hard-earned, cheap, plastic awards. How sick is that??? I wonder if it's really so much an event to help kids learn and grow, or if it's just an idea someone came up with to help colleges and universities grow financially. Either way, this whole thing kinda makes me sick. Just like everything else, though, I guess... Blah, I can't wait for the week to end.
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Right, there was a notice posted in the cafeteria: don't be happy! Anyway, we bussed our tables, taking the cafeteria trays all of the way to conveyor belt. So nyah nyah nyah. Who can't appreciate the work that goes into pouring cereal out of boxes and into bins, opening cans, ladling sloppy joes, stocking plastic flatware and paper cups? Restaurant work is hard. We all wish this under-achiever luck in the long unhappy food service career he's destined for and we'll be happy to exchange snarky remarks anytime.

But seriously folks, we've actually encountered really nice people in Ames and we're extremely grateful for their hospitality. The shuttle services and ISU staff have been very helpful. The food at Hickory Park was very good. Having grown up in a town frequented by tourists, I can sympathesize with Iowan's frustration. Coming to Iowa for the world finals has been a great opportunity for the kids to broaden their horizons. The award ceremonies are tonight, that's when we'll learn the outcome of the competitions. And then we'll be on our way home.


Friday, May 26, 2006

Pictures From Ames

Today was a big day for both of Happy Valley's Odyssey of the Mind teams. The work they've put into their performance over the prior months has brought them all closer together as teammates. The Jungle Bloke team, seen here preparing for an outing, has been working on their act, attending to last minute touch ups and practicing for spontaneous competitions.

As the Jungle Bloke team prepared this morning for their final encore, you could see their excitement and enthusiasm. They delivered their performance shortly after 10 A.M. (Central Time) and put on their best performance yet. We're keeping our fingers crossed, the outcome won't be known until the awards are announced at tomorrow night's ceremony. The next step is the spontaneous problem, which they're scheduled for tomorrow monring. While they did very well, they're up against teams from around the country who had prevailed in their respective elimination rounds.

The Ancient Egypt team delivered their grand finale shortly after 12 noon. Their performance was well executed, their witty script was very impressive and demonstrated the kid's creativity and talent. There's no pictures to post yet but we'll be back with more from the Egyptians soon. Immediately after the Happy Valley team's performance, their Lamorinda rivals from Glorietta School did their Ancient Egypt act. What a great testament to the cleverness and talent of the kids in our region, Glorietta is the next school past Hidden Valley and here they and Happy Valley are both competing against kids from around the world!

As previously posted, the global presence here in Ames, Iowa is really awesome. While we've enjoyed seeing kids from New York, Arkansas and Texas perform, the teams from Korea, Hong Kong and around the world have been a true delight. Their solutions to the Odyssey of the Mind problems, viewed through these various domestic and international cultural prisms (to say nothing of the pin trading) have been terrific. Here's a great picture of a group of competitors from Korea.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Odyssey Teams Having A Wild Ride In Iowa

The Ancient Egypt team had their spontaneous problem today! No scores are posted yet but they emerged from the competition smiling, that's usually a good sign! I asked some of the Happy Valley kids for a few words on their experiences and impressions:

We've been pin trading, making friends, playing with friends, practicing for our performance and watching other performances. The opening ceremony was awesome. When it went dark and the slide show was running, there were all kinds of lights sparkling and shining around the auditorium. The lasers were really cool!
- Kate, 2nd grade, Ancient Egypt team

The Jungle Bloke team has also been busy. The crates were finally delivered to the Memorial Union hall this morning. There was a veritable traffic jam around the loading dock there as vans and trucks from all over jockeyed for space to unload. Armed with pry bars and other hand tools, we made quick work of the crate disassembly; haste was in order given the ever present threat of rain. We had a minor panic when we finished unpacking and realized that there was a major piece missing! Was is omitted from the packing list? Was it sitting at home somewhere in Lafayette? Braving the hazards digging through the dumpster, one of the parents was able to retrieve the missing bit from amongst the discarded crate debris undamaged. The Jungle Bloke team's long term performance is tomorrow morning, one of the team members has this to say:

My experience in the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals has been very exciting and interesting. One of the major activities we are doing in Iowa is trading pins. We have had a chance to get cool pins from around the world and meet new people. I have spent a lot of time preparing with my team for our competition. We have been living in the dorms. So far I've had a lot of fun in Iowa.
- Casey, 5th grade, Jungle Bloke team

For most of the Odyssey of the Mind team members, last night was the first one spent living in the dorms at Iowa State University. We're on the upper floors of a building called Wallace Hall. Like a number of dorm buildings belonging to Iowa State, it was built in 1973 to house veterans returning from the Viet Nam war. It's not on or even directly adjacent to campus but a few blocks away and a few blocks further from where all of the Odyssey of the Mind activities are. Apparently this building hasn't been in use by ISU for quite some time, it was reopened to provide housing just for Odyssey of the Mind teams and families. Life here is rather Flintstonian; it'd be kind to characterize it as functional, the room and bath facilities are crude. The food provided in the cafeteria is abundant but seemingly consists of whatever can be extracted from one of those big institutional food cans and reheated. If given an opportunity to have our lodging fees returned to make other arrangements, I suspect that that would be the unanomous decision amongst the team members and their families.

Our blog posts may be limited to opportunities taken to leave the dorms to find wifi, there is no network (wired or on the air) in the building. The closest access point is in a lobby of a common area adjoining our building with the one next to it. There isn't even a working phone jack in the rooms, we arrived expecting to be able to plug-in for dial tone.

Like other dorm buildings of the era, Wallace Hall is slated for demolition. Good riddance! We'll be back with more from team members and updates on the happenings in Iowa soon, stay tuned.


Opening Ceremonies

Guest blogger: Claire Phillips

Last night our team was part of a very inspiring and special experience. Along with members of the over 700 other teams who are here, representing 14 countries, we opened the 2006 Odyssey of the Mind world finals. The opening ceremonies were held at the gigantic Hilton Coliseum, part of the Iowa Center, and had the feel of a rock concert. The kids were seated with their teams, grouped by state, with a few from each state coming into the coliseum on a state by state basis. Especially exciting to see were the international competitiors, including teams from Cameroon, Mexico, Kazakhstan, Poland, Germany, Korea, Japan, China, Singapore and Hong Kong. One obviously unscripted moment occurred during the medley of national anthems when the audience sang in unison the final anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. As part of the speeches from the podium, our new international friends taught us key OM terms in their native tongues. Special recognition was given to Dr. Sam Micklus, founder of Odyssey of the Mind, here to watch over the 27th World Final.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Happy Valley Has Landed In Iowa!

Most of the Jungle Bloke and Ancient Egypt teams have arrived in Ames, Iowa! We had our share of travel difficulties but so far we've all made the journey without any major glitches. Joining the Jungle Blokes flying into Des Moine last night were other Odyssey of the Mind contestants from Burton Valley, Glorietta and even a team from Shanghai, China! One issue that we learned of today is that the crate that the Jungle Bloke team's equipment shipped in was apparently too big for the elevator at Iowa State's Union Memorial building. A group of us parents will be meeting in the morning to solve a spontaneous problem when the crate is redelivered: disassembly!

I'm pleased to report that with contributions from the Carloni and Lincoln families, the donations have continued to come in; the thermometer stands at $6153! Woo-hoo! Keep it coming! The kids have been busy with pin trading and taking media interviews, more details will be in an upcoming post. Right now, we're getting ready for the opening ceremonies for the world finals.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Onward To Iowa

This blog's function as a fund raising venue is nearing the end. The Jungle Bloke and Ancient Egypt teams have been practicing and preparing for the world finals, it's been a very busy homestretch. For the coming week, we're going to start updating from Ames, Iowa. Our returns from the lemonade stands and Baja Fresh events have dwindled. The Rotary's Concert at the Rez event on Sunday got rained out, which was a sore disappointment (as if we didn't have enough rain earlier in the spring time). But in the win column, we've hit the $6053 mark on our fund raising thermometer and for that we'd like to applaud the Happy Valley families, the Parents Club, our extended families, friends from the softball/baseball fields, professional colleagues, local merchants, Trans-Pak, the families from the Contra Costa JCC and so many more who have pitched in to help us get the teams to Iowa. Of course, it's not too late to make a tax deductible donation, we're anticipating some last minute sponsorship support from Amarin Thai Restaurant and Aladino's Pizza (and getting hungry just thinking about it!). However, we're going to close the book on this soon, so if you're inclined to donate, please act fast!

Yesterday, the first Happy Valley Odyssey of the Mind team members arrived in Iowa. Today, most of the rest are making the journey; tomorrow, the remaining team members will arrive. Who says there's nothing to do in Ames? The points of interest there include:

  • Brunnier Art Museum
  • Farm House Museum
  • Reiman Gardens
Woo hoo! We're gonna have a blast! But seriously folks, we expect the memories acquired this week will be ones that will stay with the Odyssey of the Mind team members for years to come. Their accomplishments are a testament and a tribute to the quality of our school's teachers and staff as well as the community's commitment to providing an enriched educational experience. (you can applaud this part, too)

Our next post will be from Iowa, stay tuned!


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Upcoming Events in Lafayette

The Odyssey of the Mind teams' fund raising efforts reached another important milestone today, reflected in the current thermometer reading of $4160! Please join us in applauding the teams' many friends who have made this a banner week: the Abeles, Chotiner, Clark/Tyler, Engh, Franzgrote, Higgins, Lauer, Marshall, Martin and Nichols families!

In addition to the Baja Fresh fund raising events on Friday May 12th and 19th, look for the Happy Valley champs at the Lafayette Rotary Club's Concert At The Res. The concert will feature the Stanley Symphonic Band, the Acalanes Symphonic Band, the Bentley Symphonic Band and the Big Band of Rossmoor at the Lafayette Reservoir on Sunday, May 21st 2006 from 1-4pm. Admission is free and shuttle service from the parking lot is provided.

There's less than two weeks left before the big world finals competition in Ames Iowa, please offer your support by joining us for these events. Bring this flyer to the cash register at Baja Fresh the next two Fridays and the Happy Valley Odyssey of the Mind teams will receive 15%. For your convenience, you can donate to the teams online right now (you know what they say: there's no time like the present) using our easy Make A Donation buttons!


Monday, May 08, 2006

Realtors Support OM

Pacific Union's Traci Miller of Orinda has joined our Happy Valley Odyssey of the Mind teams' esteemed list of supporters! Traci's recognition of Happy Valley Elementary School's outstanding students, staff and families exemplifies the community spirit that sustains us. The Odyssey of the Mind team members are on their way to Ames, Iowa to shine a light on Happy Valley. If you haven't, please join our community of supporters by sending in your donation (or simply clicking on Make A Donation on the side bar).


Sunday, May 07, 2006

One Cup of Lemonade At A Time

cute kid at a lemonade standWhen you see the Happy Valley Odyssey of the Mind kids at their lemonade stand, make sure you stop, not just for the refreshments but also to talk to the team members about what Odyssey of the Mind is about and their accomplishments taking 1st place at the state competition. We're coming up on our final two week fund raising stretch; the world finals begin on May 24th! This week, look for the lemonade stand on Friday May 12th in the evening at Baja Fresh and along Happy Valley Road in the afternoon on Saturday, May 13th. While this is the first time Happy Valley will be represented at an Odyssey of the Mind world competition, hopefully it won't be the last. We'd like this to be the first of many world-class Odyssey of the Mind moments of pride for the Happy Valley community.

Thanks to you and the community at large, our thermometer has topped the $3,000 mark! Please keep it coming, click the Make A Donation buttons on the side bar to get us closer to our $20,000 objective. We're getting the word out, one cup of lemonade at a time.


Saturday, May 06, 2006

Love That Lemonade!

Today's lemonade sale went very well! A number of friends from the Happy Valley community stopped by for refreshments and to cheer the kids of the Odyssey of the Mind team on. A few brought along some very generous donations for which we are very grateful. As of today, the thermometer stands at $2563. This isn't enough to get the team to the World Finals in Ames, Iowa but we're closer than we were before!


Friday, May 05, 2006

Happy Cinco De Mayo

You can keep celebrating Cinco De Mayo into the month of May by joining us at Baja Fresh Mexican Grill! The next Baja Fresh fund raisers are coming to 3596 Mt. Diablo Blvd in Lafayette between 5pm and 10pm:

  • Friday, May 12th
  • Friday, May 19th
Bring this flyer to the cash register and the Happy Valley Odyssey of the Mind teams will receive 15%, that will help us get to Ames, Iowa for the World Finals!


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Packing From the Pro's

The logistics of our journey to Iowa just got a little bit easier now that Trans-Pak has donated packing and crating services to the Happy Valley Odyssey of the Mind teams! There are sets, props and costumes for each team that have to get packaged up in secure crates for shipping to Ames and Bert Inch of Trans-Pak has generously stepped up to help us with it!

The other big news today is that we have some new additions to the honor roll of Happy Valley OM Friends and the thermometer broke the 2k barrier; receiving over $2000 in donations from our community and merchants is a significant milestone! We still have a long way to go, so please keep getting the word out. All of our current supporters deserve a big pat on the back for giving us the momentum that will get us to Iowa! Thank You!


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Fund Raising Momentum

We're getting closer to Iowa! The thermometer has recently gained upward momentum thanks to the participation from additional families and businesses in the community plus the proceeds from the Baja Fresh fund raiser. Special kudos to Orchard Nursery and The Print Gallery/P & L Framing as well as the Aufhauser, Moody, Mooney and Palma families for joining us in supporting the Happy Valley Odyssey of the Mind teams. Thanks to you, we're getting this weeks fund raising off to a great start!

Next weekend we'll be out with more lemonade stands and reaching out to more Lafayette merchants for their support. Yes, we're closer to Iowa but we still have a long way to go, please join us in getting the team all of the way!


Sunday, April 30, 2006

Lafayette Lemonade

Happy Valley's Odyssey of the Mind State champs were on the streets of Lafayette today selling lemonade, baked goods and receiving donations! Families from the Happy Valley community stopped in throughout the afternoon for refreshments and to learn more about OM. A number of bicyclists training for the Ride to End AIDS in June also couldn't resist the temptation of ice-cold lemonade.

The snacks, refreshments and Kids Band Together bracelet sales this weekend raised the thermometer a bit more, so keep watching the mercury rising on the side bar of this page. Also new on the right side is the Happy Valley OM Friends section. These are members of the community that have been especially supportive of the teams' efforts to bring some World competition blue ribbons home to Happy Valley and we thank them!

Next time you see the Happy Valley OM lemonade stand operating, make sure you stop in for a refreshment. In the meantime, help us now by clicking on the Make A Donation buttons on the side of this page!


Saturday, April 29, 2006

Kids Band Together Supports Happy Valley OM!

The Happy Valley Odyssey of the Mind teams are grateful to Kids Band Together for their support! Proceeds from the sale of wristbands supplied by Kids Band Together will support the Happy Valley Odyssey of the Mind fund! Look for OM team members (and their siblings) offering you an opportunity to buy wristbands at your local baseball and softball games, at local events and at Happy Valley Odyssey of the Mind Lemonade Stands around Lafayette in the weeks ahead!

Kids Band Together is a local charitable organization by kids and for kids:

We are kids working together to make a difference in causes we care about.
Thank You, Shelby!


Friday, April 28, 2006

Baja Fresh Fund Raiser #1

The Odyssey of the Mind team's proceeds from restaurant sales aren't in yet but we can already call this evening's effort a success. The thermometer went up and we got a great turn out from the Happy Valley community, Lafayette and greater Lamorinda to show their support.

The team would like to thank all of you who bought goodies, asked about Odyssey of the Mind, made donations and patronized Baja Fresh to show your support.

If you didn't get a chance to make it out to Mt. Diablo Blvd tonight, that's OK: we're doing it again! Look for flyers soon for other Baja Fresh fund raisers on May 12th and May 19th. Mark your calendars so that we can have your dinner plans on those the final two Fridays before we're off to Ames, Iowa. In the meantime, look to the right side of this page. The "Make A Donation" buttons provide an easy way for you to make donation safely and securely online with any standard credit card!


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Scouting Ames

Wondering what it will be like to arrive in Ames? It might look a lot like this.

Both of our Odyssey of the Mind teams, their coaches and families will be in there, almost 1900 miles away from home, in less than four weeks. Please help our teams bring another victory home to Happy Valley by donating to the Parent Club's fund to benefit the teams. For more visions of Ames, check out this cluster on flickr!


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Thrill of Victory: Jungle Bloke Team

Here's a great shot of the team and their coaches elated with taking first place in Sacramento. Teams were at the state capital from San Diego, the north coast and all points in between but these Jungle Blokes prevailed on them all. The blue ribbons only tell a small portion of the story. The Jungle Bloke team's victory in California was the culmination of long hours in group meetings, script, costume and props development and lots of practice. Now, the kids will take on the world, please wish them luck!

Help our Odyssey of the Mind team bring the next blue ribbon from Ames, Iowa home to Happy Valley by donating today!

Coming soon: the Ancient Egypt team!


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Acalanes SD Super Supports Odyssey!

James Negri, superintendent of the Acalanes Union High School District, has personally donated to the Happy Valley Odyssey of the Mind teams with this message:

I'm happy to support Odyssey of the Mind!
From the kids and coaches: Thank You, Mister Negri!

You can be super, too. When you click on one of the Make A Donation buttons, you can simply and securely fill in the PayPal form with your credit card information. Helping the Odyssey teams is just a click away!


Monday, April 24, 2006

Odyssey of the Mind Fund Raisers: Baja Fresh

We're going to have a series of fund raising events at Baja Fresh at 3596 Mt. Diablo Blvd, Lafayette on the following dates/times:

  • Friday April 28, from 5pm to 10pm
  • Friday May 12, from 5pm to 10pm
  • Friday May 19, from 5pm to 10pm
As you can imagine, there was already an event scheduled for Cinco De Mayo! The Baja Fresh fund raising program is a great way to raise money; 15% of the proceeds will go to the Happy Valley Parents Club Odyssey of the Mind fund! In the days and weeks ahead we'll be sending around flyers to inform the Lafayette community of these events. Some of the Odyssey of the Mind team members will also be on-hand for the first two hours of the events to sell lemonade, baked goods and answer questions about Odyssey of the Mind.

So please patronize these events, come hungry and bring the whole (hungry) family, too!

While you're there, make sure you check out their sweepstakes to send a soccer team to meet and play soccer with Mia Hamm and other World Cup team members.


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Where Is Ames, Iowa?

Here's a clickable map of Ames, Iowa:

Google Maps

Here are the important destinations near the Odyssey of the Mind 2006 World Competition in Ames, Iowa:

Campus Maps


Saturday, April 22, 2006

Cookie Sale Success at Earth Day in Lafayette

Today, the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce Earth Day Event was held at Lafayette Plaza Park. While the themes were around energy, sustainable environments and resource conservation, our Odyssey of the Mind team was out in force getting the word out and the funds in! Anna, Jess and Maya sold forty four bags of cookies for $1/each. They wore their red "State Championship" t-shirts and roamed the grounds with their basket of cookie bags, urging support of the Odyssey of the Mind teams. A lot of people asked about OM and expressed their support, it was very encouraging!

In the weeks ahead, all of the Odyssey of the Mind team members will be out selling lemonade, baked goods and spreading the word. Thank you to the members of the Lafayette community who showed their support and purchased cookies at Earth Day. As of this moment, our fund raising drive has brought in $414, go team!


Friday, April 21, 2006

Press Coverage (4/21/06) - Contra Costa Times

Happy Valley, to say nothing of all Lamorinda, got the light of the local community shining on our kids' accomplishments! Brooke Bryant of the Contra Costa Times wrote this in Students advance to World Odyssey tourney

Lafayette's Happy Valley Elementary and Orinda's Glorietta Elementary took first and second respectively in the Ancient Egypt category, where teams had to create an original performance with a scene that takes place in ancient Egypt.
Finally, Happy Valley Elementary also had a team take first place in The Jungle Bloke, a contest where teams created a performance, including an original song and dance, about a person who has the ability to talk to animals. (Full Story)
The article glows about the teams from Stanley, Burton Valley and (as previously mentioned) Joaquin Moraga advancing to world as well as details about how to donate to the Happy Valley fund (while you're reading this, how about making a donation right now?).

Finally, the article also mentions that the Burton Valley team is supported by the Burton Valley PTA, who are accepting donations on their behalf.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Nineteen Hundred Miles to Ames

Pasadena Odyssey Of The Mind
Apparently, the sudden emergency of readying a team to travel almost nineteen hundred miles less than seven weeks from now has prompted California school communities elsewhere to launch their own fund raising drives, too. The Pasadena Unified School District has provided $3000 for the one team that they are sending to world (Sierra Madre) and they're seeking out the extended Pasadena community to get them rest of the way.

Iowa: Land of Mumps and Tornados?

The recent reports about tornados and mumps have had many of us on the phone with our friendly neighborhood pediatricians, weather geeks and infectious disease specialists. Given that one of the key concerns of the kids at the world competition is acquiring a towel for their pins, it's only fitting for the Odyssey folks to announce: Don't Panic

The note posted yesterday says:

Some teams that are traveling to Iowa for World Finals are concerned about getting the Mumps. We have been in communication with authorities in Ames, Iowa State University, and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) who have uniformly told us that the risk is minimal. We would like to assure everyone that while this is a situation to be aware of, it is unlikely that you will become infected. Read More
Feel better yet? Needless to say, I think we're going to be disinfecting the door knobs in the Iowa State dorms, just for good measure. Wiping them, no doubt, with a towel.

So long, and thanks for all the fish!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Web Site Launch

The ideas for this web site have been incubating for a few weeks, since the big victory in Sacramento. Today, we're launching our official fundraising effort! We have 14 kids from 12 families, 4 coaches and equipment to transport and house for almost a week in Ames, Iowa. Each family is going to be paying about a minimum of $1,200 per child plus the coaches' expenses. We've set our fund raising goal at $20,000 to help defray the costs of this endeavor. On top of that are mounting expenses for transport and housing of supporting parents and siblings, it's not difficult to imagine this becoming an expensive proposition!

In the weeks ahead, the Odyssey of the Mind team and their families will be reaching out to the Happy Valley and Lafayette communities seeking your support. The thermometer in the lower right hand corner will track the progress towards that goal, please help it move up!

Thanks to the fundraising thermometer for the graphics generator!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Press Coverage (4/14/06)

Local middle school triumphed in Sacramento as well:
Joaquin Moraga team takes first in 'Odyssey' (Contra Costa Times)
The Joaquin Moraga Odyssey of the Mind team placed first in the state competition of Odyssey of the Mind, held April 1 in Sacramento, after winning the regional competition in the middle of March.
Odyssey of the Mind is an international creative problem-solving competition open to students from kindergarten through college. The problems appeal to a wide range of interests; whether technical, artistic or performance-oriented. Full Story

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Press Coverage (4/2/06)

Top students match wits, vision (Sacramento Bee)
The first thing you notice at an Odyssey of the Mind competition is the headgear.
Competitors at Saturday's state finals at Natomas High School - and many of their parents and coaches - sported Merlin hats, jester hats, wooly pink and purple Viking helmets, Mickey Mouse ears with bow ties and glittery green and silver hats with plastic, buglike eyes. Full Story

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Happy Valley goes to Iowa!

Both Happy Valley teams took first place in their respective competitions at the State championship in Sacramento on April 1, 2006. It's a great testament to the quality of the schooling at Happy Valley that the Ancient Egypt and the Jungle Bloke teams stood up to fierce competition from around the state and prevailed.

This blog will track our efforts to go to the next level: competing in the the world competition in Ames, Iowa!