PHOTO COURTESY OF JESSICA WILKERSON | Speech team members participated in the 2019 state qualifications, one of their last in-person competitions before the pandemic lock-down. "In-person competitions were so fun, being able to spend a whole day with friends, having fun, and speaking in front of a real audience is something you just can’t emulate over zoom." junior Jayden Chow said.

COVID-19 regulations effect on competition clubs

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Returning in the 2021-22 school year, many volunteer clubs have begun planning their events for the first semester. However, clubs that compete in competitions cannot partake in in-person events. The limitations placed on clubs like Academic Decathlon and Speech and Debate leave worries about how competitions will proceed. 

Advisers have expressed concern for their clubs, though activities such as rehearsing and studying will proceed. Although these restrictions are intended to protect students, advisers recognize that the thrill of in-person events attract student participation.

“It’s definitely putting a damper on things, although I understand [the school] wanting to keep everyone as safe as possible,” Speech and Debate adviser Jessica Wilkerson said. “Part of the beauty of participating in Speech and Debate is the in-person competitions. Not only for the competition aspect, but also [for] bonding with your teammates in between rounds. It’s something a lot of our students haven’t had the chance to experience yet.”

Anticipation rises for restrictions to be lifted later in the year. Certain clubs have their most crucial competitions in the second semester of the school year. The uncertainty of possible modifications to in-person events leave questions about what will follow later.

“Competitions this year are in-person, but the district is not allowing in-person field trips outside of sports at this time,” Academic Decathlon adviser Kenneth Ma said. “Myself, Mark Keppel, and Alhambra coaches hope this will change by January but for now, our school cannot compete in the official competition for LA County.”

Despite the confusion about the possibilities of lifting restrictions among students and staff, the return from distance learning now allows students to efficiently communicate feedback on work progress from peers.

“Being in a school environment where people are way more engaged than online will help members become more interested in studying and placing in our competitions,” Future Business Leaders of America’s (FBLA) treasurer Valerie Ng said. “We will be able to increase club activity and engagement which can help us in the competition aspect.”

As online competitions are the sole option, members and advisers make efforts to prepare for them. Clubs are now accepting recruits, acquainting them, and beginning practices.

“[I hope] that students have fun, put themselves out there, work hard and come to compete,” Wilkerson said. “When in-person competitions come, we’ll be ready for that too!”

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