Fairfield schools sends 18 teams to state 'Odyssey of the Mind' tournament

On Saturday, March 16, the 40th Annual Connecticut Odyssey of the Mind State Tournament took place at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU). Fairfield sent a state-high 18 teams to the competition from Tomlinson Middle School, Fairfield Woods Middle School, and the elementary schools Stratfield, Jennings, McKinley, North Stratfield, and Burr to compete in a variety of problems. They worked together for months to solve a long-term problem (in an original skit) which they performed live in eight minutes in front of a panel of judges. The student members wrote the skit, built their sets out of recycled materials and designed and created their costumes. The teams were also given a problem the day of the competition which they spontaneously solved in a limited time; both problems scored together determined the teams’ standings.

The Stratfield, Jennings, and Burr teams will be headed to the World Finals at Michigan State University from May 22-25, having placed in the top of their Divisions for the work they did. Thousands of teams from throughout the U.S. and from about 25 other countries participate in the program. Jennifer Maxon Kennelly, who helps to recruit and support teams from all of Fairfield’s schools, attended the day’s events and spoke with pride of their work. “In Fairfield, this amazing program - which works on skills for children that will be invaluable to them both during school and as they enter the work force - has been slowly growing. Our turnout of 18 teams this year truly exceeded my expectations!” She went on to add, “If there are any other schools that would like more information, please be in touch with our Facebook page: Fairfield, CT Odyssey of the Mind.”

Stratfield’s one team won first place in their division. The team, headed by coaches Scott Banta and Karen Anahory, was in Division 1 which is for grades 3 - 5. Fifth grade team members Max Banta, Jack Anahory, Vaden Thakkar, Joshua Barton, Anshul Sinha, Anshika Sinha, and Henry Quinn tackled Problem 3, which involved Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions and some time travel. Additionally the team won the Jill Riggles Award for having the highest score in their bracket on the Spontaneous Problem.

Jennings sent one team, which also competed in Problem 3 but in a different bracket from Stratfield. They finished in second place, which also wins an invitation to Worlds. The team, coached by Kimberly Belizaire, Rena Paris, and Rebekah Pappas, includes Gabriella Belizaire, Ava Feay, Ivy Feay, Gabe Pestka, and Maddie Pestka.

Burr sent five team to the competition, with their team which competed in the “vehicle problem” (Problem 1), winning first place. Coached by Erin Morris, the team includes Sloane Dwyer, Forrest Hendler, Collin Kobeck., Ella Morris, Liam Morris, and Louise Sheehan.

Additional high scoring teams included a North Stratfield team with an Honorable Mention third place finish in Problem 5, and a Fairfield Woods team which won the Jill Riggles Award as well in Division 2.

The Stratfield, Jennings, and Burr teams will be handling all their own expenses for the trip and would very much appreciate any support from the public. Their GoFund Me pages are as follows:

For Stratfield,


For Jennings:


for Burr:


Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. Team members apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics. They then bring their solutions to competition on the local, state and World level.