Students need community help to raise funds for competition
By Amanda Anderson
PALM BAY -- Barbi Miller has a lot to be proud of this school year.
The gifted student enrichment teacher at Palm Bay Elementary is over-the-moon excited about what her Odyssey of the Mind and Future Problem Solving teams have accomplished. Both teams have been awarded first place at the state level competitions, securing an invitation to attend the world finals this summer.
"These students have spent all school-year creating, practicing and perfecting their projects," Ms. Miller said. "They worked long hours after regular homework each night and many weekends to create the best projects possible."
Palm Bay Elementary's OM team is comprised of sixth-graders Dylan Finstead and Chase Mowery, fifth-grader Cecelia Albright, fourth-graders Adam Velez, Abby Perez and Camden Mowery, and third-grader Kaitlyn Teachout. Joining Ms. Miller as coach is first-year coach Heather Mowery, who has two sons on the team.
The OM team had to create and present an original performance at the district and regional level competition on March 2 at Bayside High School. Their prompt was "It's How You Look at it" -- where one character established a "normal" behavior that is seen as odd by other characters, but will eventually have its behavior accepted.
"Sixteen schools competed at this level, and we competed against 15 schools at the state level," Ms. Miller said. "We placed first in the state competition at the University of Central Florida on April 6."
Palm Bay Elementary's Future Problem Solving team is comprised of sixth-graders Johnny Ellis and Dylan Finsted and fouth-graders Abby Perez and Camden Mowery.
The FPS team was required to change its projects, as members competed in the district and state competitions.
"The district topic was MegaCities, and the state topic was Ocean Soup," Ms. Miller added. "The international topic is Global Status of Women."
The Palm Bay Elementary FPS team took on more than 70 teams at the district competition in mid-February before winning the state competition in March in Lake Buena Vista.
This summer, the OM team will travel to Michigan State University for the world finals, May 21 through May 26. The FPS team will attend the International Conference at Indiana University on June 5-9.
When both teams were invited to the world finals, Ms. Miller was faced with a dilemma.
"I debated for a minute about canceling the FPS trip for this year since we have gone before," Ms. Miller said. "However, both accomplishments are equally amazing and each student deserves to attend their competition."
While being invited to attend the OM and FPS world finals is a huge honor, raising the necessary funds to attend is a task of major proportions.
"The competitions cost $850 per child, which includes room and board, airfare and registration costs," Ms. Miller said. "With 11 kids competing, the total we need to raise is close to $10,000."
The Future Problem Solving coach has created a solution, however, by establishing a donation website, in which people can help the teams make it to worlds.
"People can also send an 'offline donation,'" Ms. Miller added.
In the meantime, her brilliant and accomplished students will continue life as normal.
"The Odyssey team continues to dazzle their props and costumes and practice their lines, while the FPS kids are researching their new topic and writing practice booklets," Ms. Miller said. "And, of course, the kids are endlessly working on fundraising!"
To donate to the Palm Bay Elementary Odyssey of the Mind and Future Problem Solving teams, visit www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/palmbayelementaryodysseyfpsteam2013 or mail a donation to Palm Bay Elementary, Attention: Barbi Miller, 1200 Allamanda Road N.E., Palm Bay, Florida 32905. Checks should be written to Brevard Schools Foundation.