PHOTO COURTESIES OF JASMINE FLORES, ASHLEY YOUNG, AND SOPHIE LIN Senior Jasmine Flores (left) plays her trombone in an “Among Us” costume, following the Marching Band’s annual tradition of dressing up for Baldwin Elementary School’s Halloween Parade. In a rehearsal for the upcoming fall plays, senior Ashley Young (top) narrates the “The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon” in front of a custom-made Zoom background. Speech and Debate sophomore Sophie Lin (bottom) recites a speech in preparation for the novice in-house tournament, an opportunity for first year members to explore the different speech events.

Performing arts students acclimate to online classes

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Following the school closure, performing arts classes have continued operating through virtual alternatives. Students voiced their discontent in regards to participating in their classes and developing their skills without an interactive environment.

The Marching Band regularly updates practice logs and uses SmartMusic, a platform that checks for accuracy as students play their instruments. Since the district prohibited physical performances and marches at parades and concerts, the band plans to send pre-recorded music compilations for events such as Baldwin Elementary School’s Annual Halloween Parade. 

“Everyone has that safe haven in high school with all their friends, and that is what the band room was to me during these past four years,” senior Ruby Guan, vice president and trumpet section leader, said. “The new members cannot experience everything that I love about the band, but we have been trying to implement more fun bonding activities during our socials. I just hope they will love their time in the band as much as I have.” 

While many of the band’s competitions were canceled, Speech and Debate practice tournaments continued on Zoom, and official competitions will be held on the National Speech and Debate and Tabroom websites. Despite winning four practice competitions in class, sophomore novice Sophie Lin said that the unfamiliarity of communicating alone hindered her performance.

“Speech and Debate is all about communication, and that is something I find a lot harder to work on now that I have to speak to a screen for hours everyday,” Lin said. “There are aspects of an in-person debate that I cannot learn online such as posture, presence, and public speaking. Our captains are giving us a lot of guidance, but I am worried that when we return to school, the novices will be too far behind the rest of the class.”

In preparation for their plays, the drama students are learning new acting techniques and designing virtual backgrounds in the place of stage sets. They are currently rehearsing for their upcoming fall plays, “I Don’t Want to Talk About It” and “The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon,” which will both be shared to the public as videos in December. 

“I spent most of the five months in quarantine researching how to create the best lesson plans to ensure that the joy of drama class continues even in this virtual world,” drama teacher Kelsey McNeilly said. “Although it is challenging to make connections with students online, I strive to create a positive, meaningful, and fun learning environment for my students.”

The district is revising distance learning policies that may affect how performing arts classes function this year. It is also working on hybrid learning and reopening plans that would allow performing arts students to participate in more engaging activities.

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