P.K. Yonge team needs to help to get to worldwide competition

Joey McGinn (from left) Joseph Fote, Savannah Branch and Jack Polefko, with P.K. Yonge's Odyssey of the Mind team, rehearse for the world competition on Wednesday, April 17, 2013 in Gainesville, Fla.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 7:13 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 7:13 p.m.

Seven students from P. K. Yonge Developmental Research School will hopefully make history next month — but they need a little help getting there.


Spontaneous Fundraiser

The Odyssey of the Mind Spontaneous Fundraiser will be from 9:45 a.m. to noon on April 27 at the elementary building of P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, 1080 SW 11th St. The cost is $10 for the first member of a family and $5 for every other member. Visitors are asked to register before the event at om.pkyonge.ufl.edu.

After winning regional and state competitions, an Odyssey of the Mind team from P. K. Yonge's high school will compete in the world competition at Michigan State University at the end of May.

It's the first time a high school team from the Manatee District, which includes Gainesville and Jacksonville, will attend the world-level championship.

The catch: The team must raise $7,500 to cover the travel costs of moving the sets, costumes, props and, of course, the students.

Team members are now asking the community to support them by coming out to the Odyssey of the Mind Spontaneous Fundraiser on April 27.

JL Kirby, a 10th-grade world history teacher and OM coach at P.K. Yonge, said he was surprised — and proud — the team made it to the world competition.

This is only the second year OM has been available at the school, and all of the ninth- and 10th-graders on the team are first-time competitors.

"It's pretty impressive," Kirby said.

At the fundraiser, team members will perform their solution to a problem that they chose earlier this year. They will also lead small groups through solving "spontaneous" problems, a task they'll be faced with at the world competition.

OM is an international program that promotes creativity, said Monica Poole, who brought the program to P.K. Yonge last year with her husband, Michael Poole.

In competitions, teams present a solution to a previously released problem. The problems have an element of science, technology, engineering or math, and the solutions are presented in a skit, which can include sets, costumes, music and props.

The teams also respond to spontaneous problems, which they have only five minutes to solve verbally or by building something.

The more creative the solution is, Poole said, the higher the score. OM helps the students develop lateral-thinking skills.

"The kids do everything on their own in solving the problems," she said. "The coaches are just there to supervise."

This year, P. K. Yonge sent nine teams to the regional OM competition. Five made it to the state competition in Orlando last month, and one will continue to the world competition.

The team that's heading for Michigan consists of sophomores Andrew Rocha, Joey McGinn, Makenzie Vahle, Joe Fote, Jack Polefko and Megan Marks, and freshman Savannah Branch.

Once they arrive, they'll meet their buddy team from another country and join 800 teams from all over the world in the tournament.

That's another aspect of the program — connecting with each other through problem-solving.

"I love anything that gets my kids away from electronics and actually has them thinking on their own," Poole said.

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