Park Avenue students headed to OM world competition

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AUBURN — An original play about a French maid, a lady and a poodle discovering historic cave drawings has fetched six third-graders a spot at the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals.

The Park Avenue Elementary School students will present their play before judges at Michigan State University from May 26-29, team coach Debbie Charest said.

To qualify, the girls won the Maine title for the Odyssey of the Mind competition for grades 3-5 in the Discovered Treasures category.

It is uncommon for such young students to make the world competition, Park Avenue Principal Vicki Gaylord said.

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Team members are Jillian Foster, 8; Sophia Wood, 9; Madeline Duff, 8; Tessa Paige, 8; Sarah Charest, 8; and Delaney Morneau, 9.

In the competition, students are presented with problems they must solve by creating and presenting a performance, Charest said.

They wrote the play, acted it out, designed and built the props and answered questions before judges.

Their challenge was to rediscover an artifact from the past and create one from the future. There are pages of criteria students have to meet in creating their stories, she said.

The third-graders based their story on how four boys discovered historic Paleolithic drawings in the Lascaux Caves in southern France in 1940.

Not wanting to play boys, in their version the discovery was made by a lady getting ready for a ball, her maid and a French poodle.

In the first part of the play, the lady was looking for the right dress in a wardrobe when she, the maid and the dog went through a portal that took them to a forest, Madeline Duff said. In the forest, the dog found a hole in the ground and went in. The women followed, finding the caves and historic drawings.

In the second act, a grandmother and granddaughter are flying over a forest on their jet packs when one runs low on fuel. They land at some old golden arches, now covered in vines. The golden arches are the remains of McDonald’s.

Throughout the play they feature historic costumes, which involved researching what women wore in 1940. Using hammer and nails, they built props depicting a Paris home, complete with a room with a fancy bed, a vanity and window depicting the Eiffel Tower.

The girls also added parts to make it funny.

“While they were looking at drawings in the cave, I lifted up my leg to go to the bathroom,” Sarah Charest said with a laugh. She played the poodle.

All six created the story. “Everyone had an idea. Whatever tied in best we used,” Delaney Morneau said.

To get to Michigan, they had to raise money, since that support does not come from taxpayers, Gaylord said. They and their parents and other supporters held yard sales, bottle drives, a spaghetti dinner and bake sales. They stood in front of stores with cans and they catered lunches. They’ve raised more than $7,000, coach Charest said.

Throughout their adventure, team members have grown close, Charest said. “At first, it’s hard to listen to other ideas, but they’ve learned to take an idea and have it grow.”

The girls said they were looking forward to the trip and the competition.

“I don’t care if we win in Michigan,” Sophia Wood said. “It’s just about having fun, creating — and it’s a good opportunity to be on an OM team.”

bwashuk@sunjournal.com

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