The end of an Odyssey?

Last night, March 19, was the unveiling of what about 140 eighth-graders at Royal Oak Middle School had worked on for the past six weeks: a gigantic roller coaster.

The coaster, as well as large annual projects like an archaeological dig and a Rube Goldberg machine, seem to be well-known features of the school’s Odyssey Program.

However, there’s much more to the program than that. Charter Oak School District assistant superintendent Mike Hendricks said The Odyssey Program is a core designed to enhance the learning experience and build close relationships between students and teachers through creating small groups of kids who are overseen by four teachers throughout their middle school years.

Unfortunately, there’s been rumor that this may be the end of the Odyssey Program.

Why? Last year Royal Oak did away with their sixth grade. Sarah Brady, an English teacher within the Odyssey Program, said that when Odyssey was established in 1998, it was set up as a three-year program. Now that the school only houses seventh and eighth graders, the dynamic of the program is a bit disfigured.

And no, it’s not a funding issue. Projects like the roller coaster are all paid for through booster clubs and fund-raising.

Maria Thompson, eighth-grade assistant principal at Royal Oak, says it’s a teacher scheduling issue at this point. The budget DOES affect that scheduling, however. In other words, if the budget doesn’t support the teachers needed to fully schedule these core programs, then…well, no more core programs. Sounds like it still does boil down to a money issue in the end.

But, while the district supports it and everyone seems to love it, Odyssey is still up in the air at this point, according to pretty much everybody.

“It’s a great project,” Hendricks said. “As far as the future (of the project), I don’t know what the future is.”