Dear OM Judges,
Thank you for your time and service to the Odyssey of the Mind community. I am a huge fan of OM, and I have, firsthand, seen what a profound difference it can make in the lives of children. OM is a game-changer, a confidence-builder, and a character-former. It takes intellect out for a marathon. It tickles their brain cells in a way few things do these days. So, to be clear, I AM A HUGE SUPPORTER.
Now, I have a few things I'd like to say to you, judges. A few things I'd like you to think about, if you please. Today, I am bringing CARLOADS of precious children to your tournament. We will leave school a little early, drive in the pouring rain for over three hours, and leave behind a beloved teammate who is unwell. Children will drag props, costumes, and a backdrop halfway across the state, all items that children have spent HOURS imagining and then building (and then dismantling for the trip). Children have written scripts, learned lines, designed (sometimes) embarrassing costumes, painted sets that collapsed and so then they re-designed and painted again. They have completed countless strange spontaneous problems with joy and a sense of adventure. The children have not complained as I've put them in blindfolds and asked tasks of them that I probably couldn't complete. Some of these kids have stayed up until all hours to complete their sets and make them 'just so'. Some of them have even spent most of their spring break on their long term--one of the team members gave up a trip to France and Spain to compete in this tournament. These young people are hard-working, excited, and proud to present before you tomorrow. So do not be misled by their nervous faces, their tentative first gestures, and their shaky entrances. Open your hearts and minds and arms to them. Receive that which they bring to you. Admire it. Respect it. Praise that which deserves it. Forget about being that scary judge for a minute, and be someone who loves and encourages the extraordinary act of a child. For those eight minutes, let the children before you be your own or your grandchildren, even, because we are all connected at the heart. Do not forget that words you say and comments you write on those florescent sticky notes will adorn bulletin boards for years. You have an opportunity to be a blessing.
Now that said, I need to go get ready for my teams because I am an Odyssey of the Mind COACH. The few, the proud, the COACH. And I am bringing two awesome teams to the tournament. Three of my own children will compete. Here's the thing, they are already winners, I just hope you will see it, too.
Thank you for your service. Travel safely, and God bless OMers everywhere.
Donna Jones Koppelman, COACH
My Mission Statement
I write to serve, to unite, to educate. I write to share literature and flesh out ideas that may be of interest to others. I write to document an emotion, experience, or a blip in time. My mission is to write in such a way that the reader is reminded that we can find humor in all situations. It's one of the great blessings of life.