Aspen Elementary School OMers Sweep Awards, Qualify For World Competition

Aspen Elementary Odyssey of the Mind team members include: front row from left, Sadie Vest and Kai Bain-Zink. Back row: Kamira Johnson, Grace Virgilio, Xander Wilson, Kaya Wilson, and Gianna Rolfe. Also pictured are coaches Matt Allen and Victoria Daley. Photo Courtesy LAPS

The Aspen Elementary Odyssey of the Mind team with the awards they earned. Photo Courtesy LAPS


The Aspen Elementary Odyssey of the Mind team took first place in the middle school division at the Colorado state competition earlier this month. In addition, they received the OMER Award and the Ranatra Fusca Award. 

Coached by teachers Victoria Daley and Matt Allen, the team includes sixth graders Kamira Johnson, Grace Virgilio and Xander Wilson; fifth graders Gianna Rolfe and Sadie Vest; and fourth graders Kai Bain-Zink and Kaya Wilson.

“In my 15 years of Odyssey of the Mind, I have never seen anyone get all three awards at the same time,” said Ms. Daley.

The OMER Award is given to teams that demonstrate incredible teamwork, overcome adversity, or go above and beyond for the spirit of the competition. “Our team earned this award for the spontaneous portion of the competition,” explained Mr. Allen. “The judges were amazed at their teamwork and problem solving,” added Ms. Daley.

“The Ranatra Fusca Award is the creativity award and it is extremely hard to get,” said Mr. Allen. “It is awarded to teams that demonstrate an incredible level of creativity. They earned this for the long-term (skit) portion of the competition for creative use of materials in costumes and sets and for having a rhyming script.”

“The Ranatra Fusca Award is only given when a group of judges is blown away by a team’s creativity,” said Ms. Daley. “They do not even give this award every year.”

“The kids were incredible,” noted Ms. Daley. “They were the nicest team, wishing everyone good luck. They took care of each other and had a blast the whole day. When they did their performance, they flipped their set to the colored side, and there was an audible ‘gasp’ from the judges by how lovely it was.”

Ms. Daley continued, “A spontaneous judge came to talk to me, and said he has been judging spontaneous problems for over 10 years and has never seen a team that was so good to each other and so prepared for a challenge.  Matt and I were so proud of the kids and honored that he came over.” 

Odyssey of the Mind is a creative problem-solving competition for students and community group members of all ages. For the second year in a row, the world competition was held virtually.

As noted on its website, Odyssey of the Mind has been the world’s greatest creative problem-solving program since its beginning, in 1978. What started as a project for students in a single industrial design class has grown into a world-wide program that has reached multiple generations, allowing students to learn, develop, and employ skills related to teamwork, resource management, designing and making, divergent thinking, and so much more. Odyssey of the Mind provides students with a place to learn today’s creative problem-solving skills while having fun.

Since the team placed first at the competition, they qualified to attend the Odyssey of the Mind World Competition.  The team will not be traveling this year, but is planning to attend the world competition in 2023.