CORRECTION (Published Brentwood News, 5/2/2014)

A story about the Odyssey of the Mind competition incorrectly reported the name of Brentwood Elementary School coach Susan Wallace.

They're only in elementary school. And yet, come May, they'll be hitting the Iowa State campus.

Students from Brentwood and Discovery Bay elementary schools have beaten out hundreds of teams to move on to the Odyssey of the Mind finals.

Described by the California Odyssey website, the program is "a combination of theater and problem-solving with a creative twist. Through the writing of original scripts, the creation of costumes, props, scenery and technical elements, teams of students work together to produce solutions ... while thinking beyond the box."

California has 10 regions featuring 750 teams from Redding to San Diego. The recent state competition was held at Brentwood's Heritage High School, with the finals set for May 28-31.

The Brentwood team features a mix of fourth- and fifth-graders. They are Sage Heidkamp (fifth), Jason Henderson (fourth), Kameron Peterson (fifth), Alexa Snider (fifth), Kaitlyn Straight (fifth), Spencer Wallace (fifth) and Jessica Wouters (fourth).

On Discovery Bay's team, consisting of all fifth-graders, are Trevor Austin, Kennedy Dethlefsen, David Dove, Kasey Gunderson, Emma Lenfest, Madelyn Souza and Wyatt Taylor.

Amanda Dove, Discovery Bay's coach, said that when they found out they won, the kids were "screaming and jumping before it even registered with me that the awards presenter had said the words 'Discovery Bay.' They were beaming with pride."


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A similarly happy reaction came from Susan Wallace's Brentwood group.

"They were off the charts," she said. "Screams, tears, stunned."

As the announcements were made, "They didn't win third, and I think they were crushed when there was a three-way tie for second and they weren't part of it," Wallace said. "Then the announcer said 'Brentwood Elementary.' They bounced down the bleachers to get their medals and trophy."

The Brentwood group competed in the Driver's Test category, and presented a car and video game called "Mission Mars," while the Discovery Bay team advanced with its Not-So-Haunted House entry, which featured 14 special effects.

"They knew what it takes to win and were willing to push themselves to make it happen," she said of her kids who gave up "every lunch and after-school hours for months."

This is Dove's and the group's fourth year together. Brentwood's team also has been together four years, "losing and gaining a few members each year," Wallace said.

Both coaches said their students are obviously happy with winning regionals and state. Although they'd love to take the ultimate prize, all are thrilled to just be part of the world finals.

Wallace said "Odyssey ... is like competitive 'MacGyver.' There's a limit on what the team can spend to solve the problem, so they have to be creative. They built a giant hamster wheel they can ride in for another prop. What kid hasn't dreamed of doing something like that?"

"I am overwhelmed with pride and emotion," Dove said. "They truly had the will to win and the willingness to work for it. The ideas and the success are all theirs."

Wallace added: "The freedom to build, take apart and imagine is more important in the long run than winning, but winning is really, really amazing. (Winning) would be incredible, but being able to go to the competition is a prize in itself."

The teams are focused and working hard to raise the thousands of dollars needed to get to finals. Both groups are planning fundraisers, and both have set up GoFundMe accounts and are ready to receive donations. Discovery Bay's is www.gofundme.com/85jiu8, and Brentwood Elementary's is www.gofundme.com/880d68.

Reach Trine Gallegos at TrineG@att.net

to learn more
For more information about the Odyssey of the Mind program, visit www.odysseyofthemind.com. For more information on the Brentwood team, call 925-513-6360. For the Discovery Bay team, call 925-925-809-7540.