Academic teams adapt to new safeguards, competition rules

Jayden Robinson, Staff Writer

The COVID-19 outbreak put a halt to many extracurricular activities, but two Academic teams that are bouncing back from this setback are Mock Trial and Robotics Club.
These teams are very hands-on and collaborative, so COVID has altered the way members participate.
Mock Trial is a club where each year the students are given a case that is created by the State Bar Association. Then the students follow the steps to present the case with lawyers and witnesses in an actual trial setting..
“The competition, which takes place in February, will be virtual this year, so that cuts down on some of the excitement of arguing a case in a real courtroom in front of real lawyers,” Mrs. Alison Skertic, the sponsor, said. “The students love debating objections with the other team, and that won’t be the same. I’m not sure what the format will be, but it will be different.
“Plus, we have advanced to the state competition the past few years, but this year that will also be virtual so the students will miss out on a chance at a trip to Indianapolis, which is always a nice way to end the season.”
Senior Zion Elliott said the changes are making it more difficult to enjoy the season..
“Now everything is virtual and it’s harder to keep in communication with the whole team,” Elliott said. “We won’t get to go to our competition in person so it will be virtual and will sort of ruin the experience.
“The environment definitely has changed, of course, because we’re not actually together.”
With the new ways and new routines of each club, it can become difficult transitioning.
“ For practices, we have been meeting virtually, but it is definitely cutting down on the collaborative nature of the club. We usually play a lot of improv games at the start of the year to get to know each other and work on acting but it’s hard to do that virtually. Plus, students are tired of being on camera by the time we meet,” Mrs. Skertic said.
The Robotics Club also has been affected by COVID-19. This club is a more technical and hands-on club, so it had to create new guidelines to deal with the threat.
“In the Robotics team we must have in-person meetings in order to build the actual robot,” Mr. Charles Seligman, the sponsor, said.. “In these meetings all members are expected to wear masks at all times and we try to work in smaller groups (two-three students).”
The actual competitions will be virtual.
“We will run through the course without anyone else on the course and an individual will score how the bot did,” Mr. Seligman said. “Then those scores will be submitted to the local organization. They will then pair your team with another that has done the same thing and the two will be compared to the other alliance.”
With these guidelines. it can be difficult to adapt and become comfortable while participating, Mr. Seligman emphasizes it’s necessary to keep everyone safe.
“The best way we are attempting to keep as much distance between us all is to have separate small groups working on different aspects of the bot and then come together and put it together,” he said.