Submitted by Oswego County BOCES
The fun marshmallow treat known as Peeps was one of the main components used by groups competing in this round of Oswego County Academic Youth (OCAY) League challenges. The 8-10 member teams went head to head in three tasks that tested their artistic ability, creative thinking, script writing, acting ability, knowledge of world, national and local news and politics and a whole host of other talents as well.
Globs of sugar turned into waves, airplanes, King Kong, and even John Cusack in “Say Anything” as teams came up with creative scenes for their first challenge. The groups were asked to construct a diorama of a famous occurrence, scene or pop culture phenomenon using at least three marshmallow Peeps in the final product. They were only allowed to use materials provided by their advisor or the league in order to keep things on a level playing field. The final products revealed everything from recent events like the natural disasters in Japan to a depiction of the infamous phase, “Let them Eat Cake” attributed to the doomed Marie Antoinette.
The second challenge required one or two members of the team to create and deliver a 2-3 minute standup routine that was along the lines of something David Letterman or Jay Leno might perform. At least two of the following areas had to be incorporated: world news/politics, national news/politics, local news/politics, sports, entertainment, or science/technology. The presenters were graded on presentation skills, how well they addressed the topics they choose, if there was also humor incorporated and their general delivery technique.
The final piece in the “Peeps Comedy Show” challenge was to create and perform a 2-3 minute parody of a historical event. The premise of the sketch had to start with the working title, “If _____ had been _____”. Performances were required to include 3-5 team members, none of whom performed the standup routine, and all dialogue had to be memorized. Creativity ran wild with Beethoven meeting Michael Jackson, Paul Revere trying to convey his critical message even though he was mute, and Shakespeare writing in a “hip-hop” genre among the acts presented.
At the end of the judging, scores from all three categories were combined and the winners were announced. The competition was tight and the panel of judges joined OCAY League Coordinator Dante Ascenzi in stressing that they were blown away by the abilities of all the teams present. One judge commented on how she was amazed by the level of creativity and detail she saw given the fact that teams only have two hours to not only conceptualize, but actually then follow through and create three solid products for presentation.
Mexico’s team represented by Katie Dillabough, Elizabeth Emery, Molly Freihofer, Lauren Gregory, Robert Sherman, Alyssa Sprague, Alex Storto, Anthony Veiga, Brianne Vincent and Travis Whitaker finished with the gold medal for this round of competition. The talented group from Phoenix made up of Billy Lentz, Robert Stafford, Laura Kraus, Shane Young, Nina House, Kristin Waldby, Kenny Roffo, Carl Fisk and Jade Homer placed second and received silver medals. Bronze medals went to Sadie Adamy, Alex Bateman, Alex Bawarski, Clare Bawarski, Elyse Cianfarano, Nate Deavers, Jenna Doherty, Brian Garrett, Nate Hawthorne and Amandra Tetro from Fulton’s G. Ray Bodley High School.
All nine schools in the county sent teams to represent their district in this academic league that provides a showcase for student’s academic skills in a variety of competitive events that emphasize scholastic excellence, team building, leadership and creativity. OCAY League, organized in the spring of 1997, is coordinated through Oswego County BOCES as part of the Gifted and Talented Programs and was created with the idea that academics merit a standing comparable to athletics.