On Oct. 16-17, SIS will host the first Forensics tournament of the season. With classes operating on the hybrid online/offline system that had been established toward the beginning of the year due to COVID-19, it has been decided that the tournament will be held online at SIS to prioritize students’ safety. This announcement has since garnered attention, as all Forensics events in the previous semester were canceled after classes went fully virtual, and an online tournament is unprecedented. In the approaching tournament, participants will compete in speech and debate events via Zoom.
“This tournament is my first Forensics tournament, as I joined the team this September,” said Bin Ma (10), Forensics member. “I have been looking forward to this tournament as soon as we got the resolution, and I was glad that we could debate on one of the most debated issues within the current society. However, my teammates and I were notified that this tournament will be held online as soon as we joined the team. Although I prefer physical matches as I can immediately check the reactions of the opposing team and the judge, I believe that we will be able to increase our communication skills within the team and perform just as well as we would if we were having a physical tournament.”
On the days of the tournament, students will compete at their respective schools while adhering to the implemented safety measures. Participants and judges will physically be at schools, but only one participant or team (for students competing in debate and duo speech categories), or one judge and their timer, will be permitted in each classroom, in which it is required that they socially distance themselves. Before the event begins, judges will start Zoom meetings, and participants will be given the links to these rooms on a document; after joining the call, participants will perform their pieces or debates for the judges. Students are not allowed to consult the internet for research in order to ensure fairness.
“As a coach, I want students to be able to compete,” said Leslie Gregori, Forensics coach. “If this is the way we have to do it, then it is worth doing it to give students the opportunity to not miss the tournament. It may be a little strange to keep the masks on because speech is really about facial expressions. Students will have to do the best they can, but other than that, the tournament will work just fine. I am hoping we do not have any issues with the Wi-Fi or Zoom and everything goes smoothly.”
Forensics practices began on Sept. 8 and 9 for debate and speech respectively. Students have been preparing for the tournament whilst following the school safety protocols, with students at school physically attending practices whereas students at home take part via Zoom. The debate team, which meets after school on Tuesdays, brainstormed potential arguments virtually for the first few practices, and students on campus started participating in mock debates on Oct. 6. On Wednesdays, speech members at school maintain social distancing during practices by performing their pieces in separate classrooms, and those at home are organized into Zoom breakout rooms based on the events they participate in so that they can interact with their teammates.
“I have done my practices both online and offline, once offline and twice online so far,” said Eunie Choi (10), speech team member. “I plan to prepare for the online tournament by making sure I am 100 percent comfortable with both of my pieces even though I am not sure if I am going to participate in certain events. Because the tournament is online, instead of practicing in front of a mirror like I would do for a physical tournament, I will probably film myself performing a couple of times to see what I look like through a camera.”