Speech and debate team competes via video

In Loretto classrooms, squad members take part in State meet


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Speech and debate team members got an early start in Loretto Hall during the State meet.

Luke Hern, Reporter

Taking a debate or speech class is a requirement on the Hill, and many students find out upon taking these classes that debating and reciting speeches is much harder than one might think. The speech and debate team has put together another successful campaign as the competitive  season comes to a close in early March. 

But things are different this time around with the coronavirus, as senior member Andrew de las Alas and junior Hagan McClelland helped shed light on what exactly the competitions look like with the necessary restrictions.

 “Traditionally, we’ll take a bus to and from the host school, but this year we spend the day in Loretto Hall and log in to our individual Zooms,” de las Alas wrote in an email, as every meet this year has been virtual.

During the day-long competitions on Saturdays, students separate into almost every classroom, office, nook and cranny in Loretto Hall  to ensure the safety of the students while competing, and then get onto their virtual calls through the Jitsi, which McClelland said is an app fairly similar to Zoom.     

For the State meet, students gathered after school to compete in their first rounds, and recongregated early the next morning, as McClelland added that students were required to be on campus no later than 7 a.m. This all comes after a week of practice at which students work on polishing off speeches and developing debate skills among other things. 

According to McClelland, practices have not changed much, as the teams and groups have been able to gather while paying attention to the Covid-19 restrictions. “The team also holds virtual practices on certain days for students doing their learning from home,” McClelland wrote, adding that coming to practice focused has been key with all the distractions. 

Similar to classes during the day, the team separates accordingly into their smaller groups while maintaining social distancing protocols, and sprays and wipes down desks after they use them. 

While one might think that every member of the team has the same role, there are actually many different events that different team members compete in. The specific event determines how many members are in one classroom at any given time, as de las Alas, who competes in the world schools event, debates with a team consisting of three people. These mini teams give speeches, each with three main points, some of which are prepped before, while, “others will be written an hour before the debate for an impromptu round,” de las Alas said. 

Later parts of the competition include cross-examinations similar to those students practice in debate, but this type of competition includes it during the debate, not after.           

While both McClelland and de las Alas agreed that past years on the team have been more enjoyable, there have been some blessings. “(We) have competed against teams as far away as California, Texas and a few other states,” as McClelland wrote.