Competing in a pandemic

Forensics team competes in their first virtual meet


Photo courtesy of Millard West Forensics

The Millard West Forensics team gets hyped up for their first meet of the 2020-21 competition season. Although the team did not get to attend the meets in person they still worked hard to prepare for their first virtual meet. “Preparing for the first competition of the season was definitely different than any other year,” Cavalier said. “Instead of practicing looking at an audience I had to get used to looking at one focal point.”

Annabelle Harshbarger, Staff Reporter

 Due to Covid-19 many clubs and activities have had to find new and creative ways to do things. For the Millard West Forensics teams this means they will have to attend all their meets virtually. On November 6 and 7, the Forensics teams kicked off their competition season with their first-ever virtual meet. 

At the novice Millard North meet, 17 schools competed, and at the varsity Bellevue West meet, there were 12 schools. In the past, all schools would meet at the host school, but due to the pandemic, this was not possible.

The changes to the meet did not only affect the way in which the team competed, but also how they prepared. Because they were not performing in front of an audience, the team had to take into account where they were looking on their screen and many other factors, like technology problems, they did not have to think about before.

“When preparing, we had to think about how students would look on Zoom,” Forensics coach and Speech teacher Jennifer Jarome said. “We had to place our laptops in the appropriate place so that they could be seen and heard. There were also some additional tech requirements that the district tech office had to help with.” 

On the days of the meets, the Forensics team met at Millard West to compete via Zoom. Each competitor had their own classroom to compete in based on which event they were in. They then joined a Zoom with their competitors, tournament staff and the judges. The team repeated this every round until they had completed the finals. 

“Having the meet over Zoom made performing a lot less personable, which is a grievance, but I am happy to be competing again,” senior and co-President of the Forensics team Robert Russell said. “Being able to represent our school through the speech team is an honor.” 

Using new technology to compete did not come without complications for the speakers and the judges. The Forensics team had to find ways to work around any trouble they had to ensure a successful 

“During one of my rounds, another girl’s performance was cutting out completely,” Senior and co-President of the Forensics team Emma Cavalier said. “The judge had to ask her to start over because the connection was so bad. But, overall, I think our first virtual meet went smoothly.”

After all competitors had performed every team met on Zoom for the award ceremony. 

Despite any complications the team might have had they were successful in their first meet. Russell was awarded champion in extemp and impromptu speaking. Cavalier placed fifth in POI and persuasive speaking. Both the novice and varsity teams placed second overall at their respective meets.    

Although it will look very different from past years the Forensics team hopes for a successful season through Zoom.