Press release: OLC students take first in Senior Odyssey of Michigan



Leah Nixon

Director of Communications


May 22, 2013 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — As kids from kindergarten through college converge this weekend on the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals at Michigan State University, students at Grand Rapids Community College’s Older Learner Center are basking in their victory at the recent Senior Odyssey of Michigan Community Competition.

The Senior Odyssey of Michigan Community Competition, created last year by Julie Lake of Kent County Senior Neighbors, is modeled after Odyssey of the Mind, the international program for students in kindergarten through college that challenges participants to think creatively and outside the box. Like their younger counterparts, the Senior Odyssey participants worked together to resolve problems and then present those solutions in skits.

Jean Schmuker coached the GRCC team of Jackie Cromwell, Jane Greenman, Brady Jones, Joanne Jones, Freda Lehnen, Roger Meyer and Barb Wingard. Ms. Schmuker was on the Senior Odyssey team during its debut year but had to leave because of family commitments. She decided to coach the team this year — a new experience for her.

“It was a bit out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to do something different,” she said. “Coaching was a great experience. I enjoyed getting to know the members of my team better and to find interesting problems for them to practice with. The team was very cooperative and very dedicated to the project. Winning the competition is the icing on the cake.”

Mike Faber, director of the Older Learner Center is extremely proud of the winning efforts of Coach Schmuker and team: “It is amazing what they have been able to accomplish with only six weekly practice sessions. It has been a great privilege to have been able to sponsor and support a Grand Rapids Community College Senior Odyssey of the Mind team for both years of the program’s existence!”

GRCC’s Older Learner Center strives to meet seniors’ needs through:

• outreach activities, including a variety of educational programs, public events and forums, training for aging network professionals, and publications.
• development of educational curriculum and programs for training the gerontologists of tomorrow.
• leadership development, civic engagement and training for area seniors.
• life enrichment and other lifelong learning opportunities for baby boomers and older people.

Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for more than 30,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops and personal enrichment classes. GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus as well as several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.