Johnston Students Compete at Odyssey of the Mind World Finals

Submitted by Amy Winkler

Five teams of Johnston Community School District students competed at the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals at Michigan State University, May 24-27.  The Johnston teams were among the 800 teams representing more than 20 countries at the 2017 World Finals.

Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. Teams comprised of five to seven 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 performed solutions to competition on the local, state, and world level. Thousands of teams from throughout the U.S. and from more than 20 other countries participate in the program.

High Honors

A team of fifth graders representing Horizon Elementary School was awarded the most prestigious award at World Finals, the Ranatra Fusca award for exceptional creativity and risk-taking. The team was one of only seven teams in the World to receive this honor and the first team from Iowa to earn the award since 1989. The team received the award for the creativity and engineering of “an entire intricate system of tracks for their vehicles with a series of pressure sensitive pads that started a cascade of motors and springs.  This changed the layout of the track, allowing the vehicle to weave and dodge through the getaway zone.” View the team’s recognition here: and their solution here:

Johnston Odyssey of the Mind teams are parent-coached and organized and are not formed or sponsored by the district. Additional information can be found at

Johnston teams competing at Odyssey of the Mind World Finals:

  • Horizon Elementary (11th Place and Ranatra Fusca Award):  Jack Gabby, Kennedy Kramersmeier, Drew MacGregor, Will Safris, Caroline Throener, Lauren Wessling.  Coaches: Kate Safris, Steve Safris, Eric Throener.
  • JMS (11th Place):  Cole Eichacker, Evan Kilstrom, Ana Kingery, Ali Safris, Jake Sterling, Charlie Pattinson, Smita Singhal.  Coaches:  Kate Safris, Steve Safris
  • Horizon Elementary (29th Place): Tanner Downs, Kaley Kenney, Buck Pattinson, Maya Pieper, Harrison Burkhardt, Henry Zou and Ben Craig. Coaches: Bryan Burkhardt,  Betsy Burkhardt
  • Summit (34th Place): Cadence Sires, Allison Miner, Kaden Koch, Olivia Curry, Megan Mixdorf, Will Stiles and Rohan Nevadas. Coaches: Carolyn Miner, Kacie Sires
  • Beaver Creek (39th Place): Kathir Kalyanaraman, Max Richardson, Parker Sitzman, Sibi Santharaam, Ahana Devadas, Lauren Lashier and Mia Curry. Coaches: Kavitha Kalyanaraman, Binu Abraham

Additional teams that qualified for World Finals but did not attend:

  • Summit: Maggie Pattinson, Eshaan Chandani, Meredith Downs, Charlie Olsen, Brooke Bruggemann, Jeffrey Zou and Chloe Miller. Coaches: Laura Olsen, Suzanne Downs
  • Timber Ridge: Drew Petterson, Jeri Sobotka, Oliva Hunt, James Anderson, Ben Anderson and Cleantha Chang. Coaches: Scott Anderson,  Lisa Sobotka
  • JHS: Luke Safris, Caroline Ludwig, Charlie Hoekstra, Megan Hartle, Cole Valentine and David Hindman. Coaches: Trace Hoekstra, John Hoekstra