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The Virtual Penguins of Speech
Naomi Eastman
Friday, November 13, 2020

     As COVID-19 is an airborne virus, it should not come as a shock to many that one of the most affected school groups during this time would be the speech team. Despite this major setback however, the speech team refuses to give in to a seemingly hopeless situation, and are trying to troubleshoot around the virus so they can have as close to a real season as possible. 

     “We're honestly just getting started because COVID postponed us but every one that is on the team is very excited for the season, which is really refreshing. We are a bit nervous because we aren't sure what to expect, but it's just nice to be back to working on our pieces,” speech captain Carian Perez said. 

     Despite the fact that the Hybrid schedule may bar the group from meeting 100 percent in person as a group, the team is not letting that impact their performance.

     “Getting us all together has been a bit difficult, the captains try to meet with the coaches periodically and whichever cohort group isn’t at school on that day is able to attend those discussions virtually, but overall the meeting has been more one on one with coaches,” captain Kianna Ernst said. 

     The typical speech meet setting took place at a high school or college, with students waking up incredibly early in the morning in order to get to the school in time for the bus to take them to the meet. There, countless other schools, students, coaches and parents alike, would arrive with them and begin the day's activities. Of course there is no way that would be able to happen now, so the team has had to improvise a little bit. Even with a drastic change in format, the team still treats this season like any other. 

     “Meets this year are going to be all virtual, but we don't really know what this looks like yet. Some competitions are going to have us send in videos of our performances and have judges score them on the meet day and have some sort of live, virtual awards ceremony. Others are going to be live on a zoom type call, where you will perform live on the day of the meet. How all of these are going to work are still very new to us as a team as we have not competed in any yet,” captain Hannah West said. 

     It has been a little hard, especially for seniors who have been on the team for several years now, not getting to experience their senior year season, but they make do.

     “The season has changed drastically. We aren't doing in-person practice right now so we are able to be more flexible with schedules than ever. Additionally, we weren't able to promote auditions as much this year due to COVID, so our team is pretty small. Though our team is small, it is full of driven veterans from last year that are ready to help out the newbies to have a pretty competitive team this year.  I'm very excited about that,” Perez said. The team has been working hard with all the time they have been given despite all the setbacks, so make sure to show them some support for the meets to come. 

     “As a team I think we’re all just really excited to get back to doing something we all enjoy and we’re all happy that we’re getting at least somewhat of a season,” Ernst said.