Two Westfield Teams Take Top Honors at Odyssey Of The Mind State Championship

Members of the Tamaques Division 1 team celebrate their victory at states on Saturday. Pictured left to right are Kevin Warren, Avery Keith, Zach Preucil, Joey Gamba, Charlotte Schwartz and Ariana Keith. Catherine Collins was unable to attend states and is not pictured. Aaron Keith stands behind the team. Credits: courtesy of Aaron Keith

WESTFIELD, NJ – Two Westfield teams won their divisions in the Odyssey of the Mind state championship held Saturday in Haddonfield, qualifying them to advance to the world finals next month.

The winning teams from Westfield included a group of students from Edison Intermediate School who won Division 2 for their solution to a problem titled “Experiencing Technical Difficulties.” Team members were Andrew Cherry, Hannah Cherry, Omay Edekar, Finn North, Roberto Panora, Meredith Rosenthal and Sophie Tsekov. They were coached by Elin Cherry and Suzanne Rosenthal.

A group of students from Tamaques Elementary School took first place in Division 1 for their solution to the “Runaway Train” problem. Team members were Ariana Keith, Avery Keith, Joey Gamba, Kevin Warren, Charlotte Schwartz, Zack Preucil and Catherine Collins. Aaron Keith and Mary Gamba served as coaches.

Sign Up for E-News

Aaron Keith called his team’s victory Saturday an “underdog story” because they had been seeded fourth statewide in their particular problem coming into the championship. Only the top two teams from each problem and division make the cut for worlds.

“Everyone went crazy,” Keith said when his team heard the announcement that they won.

Third grader Avery Keith was both nervous and excited at states.

“At the actual Odyssey, I was especially nervous because they announced first after announcing second and third,” he said. “We all just screamed and ran up.”

Keith admits that his team had some mishaps in their performance Saturday, but that the kids rose to the challenge. Two members even composed songs to the tunes of “Frozen” to sing when a problem cropped up.

“They’re not looking for a perfect performance. They’re looking for a way to work together when things go wrong,” he said of the judges.

Kevin Warren, a fifth grader at Tamaques, tried Odyssey for the first time this year
and hopes to participate again. He is still elated after the win Saturday and is eager to
go to Worlds.
"I'm interested in meeting people from other cultures and especially interested in
seeing how people in different parts of the world attempt to figure out all the problems,"
he said.

Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that provides creative problem solving opportunities for children from kindergarten through college, according to its website.

In teams of no more than seven, students choose a long-term problem to solve through an original skit that is performed in competition. Team members must come up with an idea, write the script, design costumes and build sets with only minimal guidance from coaches. Teams also work on fast response questions to prepare for the “spontaneous” portion of competitions.

For most teams, competition is the culmination of months of weekly practices.

“The big thing, as a coach, that we try to teach is time management,” said Suzanne Rosenthal, who has coached for three years.

The experience also teaches kids teamwork, effective communication and leadership skills, she added.

Her daughter Meredith, 12, enjoys the many chances to be creative and artistic that Odyssey affords.

“And also, I’ve made a lot of friends through Odyssey,” she said.

Rosenthal’s group’s problem required the students to design and build several devices powered by rubber bands that complete specific tasks.

Keith’s group had to build and operate a small self-powered car that moves on a track above the floor and encounters five obstacles along its route.

Odyssey has gained popularity since it began in Westfield in 2011 with just one parent volunteer, one teacher and a single team of seven children. This year, nearly 70 kids from four elementary schools and the two middle schools participated on 10 teams, said Bernadette Murphy, co-chair of the Westfield program with Elin Cherry.

“I feel that the best part about OOTM is that the kids create and present the solutions themselves,” said Murphy. “We are very proud of all 10 of our teams and especially excited for the teams going to World Finals.”

In addition to the two first place teams, three other Westfield teams who took second place for their respective problems will also attend world finals, planned for May 20-23 at Michigan State University.

These teams include EIS Division 2 whose members are Daniel Carminio, Kate Johnson, Aidan Kilbourn, Aidan Orr, Catherine Orr, Emily Triolo and Kurt Hu. Carmen Mak and Tara McGroddy were the coaches.

EIS Division 1 also came in second and states and qualifies for worlds. Team members for this group were Will Crall, Ezra Davis, Billy Maguire, Kavya Panjwani, Amanda Rosenthal, Steve Wang and Clara Yu. Hillary Crall and Suzanne Rosenthal were the coaches.

The third Westfield team to move on to worlds was Jefferson Division 1, whose members were Avi Ash, Maya Dias, Allie DiFalco, Hannah Everett, Sayee Edekar, Josh Metz and Sam Schupak. Chhaya Edekar and Elyse Everett were the coaches.

Aaron Keith, whose team is made up largely of neighbors on Doris Parkway, will make his second trip to world finals when his team heads to Michigan in May. He competed in Odyssey for five years when he was growing up in Ocean County and made it to worlds when it was held in Akron, Ohio.

Anyone interested in learning more about Odyssey of the Mind is invited to attend a showcase on April 22 at 7:30 p.m. at Edison Intermediate School, 800 Rahway Avenue, when some of the teams will present their long term problem solutions.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Clark Officials Say Latest Scam is Fueled by OPRA Regulations

May 26, 2018

CLARK, NJ — Township officials have released a statement encouraging residents to exercise caution if they are approached by an individual or organization promising to help with property tax related issues for a fee.   

The Town of Clark is urging citizens to contact the Tax Collector's office with questions before agreeing to use the services provided ...

Open Letter to Dr. Dolan & Westfield High School Administration About Graduation

May 23, 2018

Editor's note: The following is a response to a letter sent to parents from Westfield High School Principal Derrick Nelson telling parents that, due to the potential of Kehler Field being re-turfed, this year’s graduation will be held on the back field behind Westfield High School, with the inclement weather location the varsity gymnasium. The letter tells parents ...

Upcoming Events


Sun, May 27, 12:00 PM

The First Baptist Church, Westfield

Free Piano Recital in the Heart of Westfield


Mon, May 28, 9:00 AM


Memorial Day Parade

Westfield Police Blotter: Package Stolen from Porch, Shoplifting & More

May 23, 2018

May 15, 2018 11:40 a.m.

A resident of Vernon Terrace reported the theft of a package from their front porch on May 12, 2018 between 11:40 a.m. and 5 p.m.


May 19, 2018 1:16 p.m.

Rhonda Boston, age 32, of Newark, NJ was arrested on the strength of an outstanding warrant for her arrest from Westfield Municipal Court in the amount of $580. Subject was picked up at New Jersey State ...


Eric Lieberman, 47, of Scotch Plains, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly Tuesday, May 22, 2018 ...
Read more

Wardlaw+Hartridge School’s Annual Cookin' Cabaret Entertains Big Crowd

May 27, 2018

Students at The Wardlaw+Hartridge School in Edison displayed a wide array of talents in vocal, instrumental and dance routines to entertain a packed AP Room at the ninth annual Cookin' Cabaret on May 22.

The Concert Choir kicked off the evening with Seasons of Love from Rent and ended the show with a rousing rendition of Ain't No Mountain High Enough. Other highlights included acoustic ...

Westfield's Wilson School Receives Surprise Visit from Governor Murphy

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy took a few moments out of a busy schedule to drop in on a 5th grade class at Wilson School in Westfield on Thursday, May 24.

“Fifth grade is one of the coolest grades,” said the governor as he greeted the students.  “What are you studying today?”

A brief discussion of the formulas for surface area and volume needed to build an ...

There are Really 3 Reason Buyers Choose the Homes They Buy

Susan Massa Broker Associate CRS SRES ABR 

Keller Williams Premier Properties 188 Elm St Westfield NJ 07090

488 Springfield Ave, Summit, NJ 07901

908-400-0778 cell

Dedicated to Excellence, Dedicated to You “Your Home Your Realtor”

download my smart phone app ...

Ask Maria: How can I help my son? 

Q: My son's best friend's mom just passed away. I am concerned for my son and don't know what to do for him. He is distraught. How can I help my son? 


Grief is a normal and natural reaction to the death of a loved one. No two people grieve the same, even in the family. I am certain that your son’s friend and mom are like family to your son. Losing his ...

Dog Missing from Fanwood Home

UPDATE: Reunited with owner!

ORIGINAL POST: Lexi was seen north side of Fanwood Thursday. She's 25 lbs., tall and looks like a fox.

Lexi is friendly and was wearing a collar with a tag. Call 732-259-5570 if you spot her.

IRS Grants Relief for Taxpayers Affected by Reduction of Maximum Deductible HSA Contributions

The IRS recently announced relief for taxpayers with family coverage under a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) who contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA).


For 2018, taxpayers with family coverage under an HDHP may treat $6,900 as the maximum deductible HSA contribution.


The annual amount had been reduced to $6,850 for 2018 under the Tax Cuts and Jobs ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.


Q. When did you join

I joined in September, ...

‘Chambers USA 2018’ Recognizes John Schmidt Among List of America’s Leading Lawyers for Business

Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper is pleased to announce that John H. Schmidt has once again been recognized by “Chambers USA” in their annual list of leading lawyers for business. Chambers and Partners, which produces “Chambers USA,” is a client referral organization that researches and subjectively ranks attorneys and law firm practice groups nationwide ...

'Turning Off the Morning News' brings comic twist

‘Turning Off the Morning News’ tackles today’s issues with a comic twist

By Liz Keill

PRINCETON, N J – Despite the late night comics, no one quite captures the insanity of the political/social status world like Christopher Durang.

His latest play, “Turning off the Morning News” hit the ground running.  John Pankow as Jimmy addresses the audience, ...

Stocks Can Rise in a Rising Interest Rate Environment

Investors remain concerned about the potential impact of higher interest rates on stocks. In their most recently released minutes, the Federal Reserve Open Markets Committee indicated the US economy is on solid footing and the economic conditions warrant continued gradual increasing of interest rates. This set off a sale in the stock and bond markets as investors began pricing in a fourth ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 15

On this week’s AtlantiCast, learn some important tips for controlling and avoiding diabetes from an Atlantic Health System expert, see how Atlantic Health is advancing cutting-edge research, hear what’s being done to keep health care environmentally friendly and much more!


Vehicular Homicide Charges for Driver of Paramus School Bus

May 24, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ — The driver of a school bus involved in a crash on Route 80 last week that killed two people faces two counts of second-degree vehicular homicide/death by auto, it was announced today.

The driver, Hudy Muldrow, 77, of Woodland Park, attempted to make an illegal U-Turn on the highway in an attempt to find his way to Waterloo Village, the planned destination of the bus that ...