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AURELIUS — The Odyssey of the Mind team for Auburn High School said their journey to the competition Saturday involved some last-minute work, a lot of laughs, and a snake named Frederick.

The group was one of multiple teams that competed at the Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES building, performing various scenes each team wrote that solved a problem based on a particular theme, such as something related to science or STEM and another related to the work of internationally known inventor and artist Leonardo da Vinci. 

For a problem that was meant to involve comedic performances revolving around a disagreement, the Auburn team performed a sketch about two groups in a school being pitted against each other, capping off with a stuffed snake popping out of a large green hat.

The group admits two of the students, Ailish Cuthbert and Raizel Demaria, wrote all of the group's sketches. Some elements came together Saturday morning, such as memorizing lines, but the students said they enjoyed the experience immensely.

"I actually think we pulled it together very well," Ivana Pierce said.

Tony Abbatiello, director of instructional support services for BOCES, said teams with elementary, middle and high school students from Cayuga County-area schools were involved in the proceedings. Groups have to gather and create their own costumes, sets and props.

Teams that won Saturday advance to the state tournament in Binghamton on March 23. The world finals will be held in Michigan in May. Another part of the competition involved situations students are told about shortly before they have to perform it.

A Cato-Meridian team with middle school and high students performed a scene involving da Vinci's creation of the coffee grinder, with Owen McGetrick playing da Vinci's famous drawing the Vitruvian Man in a costume covered with tape, complete with multiple arms. The sketch's dialogue contained rhymes from beginning to end.

Maggie McGetrick, one of the group members and Owen's sister, said she enjoyed the experience. She talked about she has learned through Odyssey.

"Listen to other people, because chances are they actually know what they're talking about," Maggie said.

Laura McGetrick, the team's coach and mother to Owen and Maggie, said she was impressed with how the students handled their tasks. She said she believes the process has improved the students' confidence.

Deb Daloia, coordinator for the event, said the students make the majority of the choices involved in the scenes themselves, while coaches are there to guide the groups along without directly instructing them on what to do. She said the competition requires the students to listen to each other. 

"They're not just seven kids on a team," she said. "They're a whole team."

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Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or kelly.rocheleau@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.

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