Talking Minutemen take on State Championship

Sydney McDonald, Assistant Feature Editor

The Speech and Debate team at Revere High School is preparing to send nineteen of its “talking minutemen” to States being held virtually from March 3rd through March 6th.

Although the team’s processes faced many significant changes during the 2020-2021 season due to COVID-19, they adjusted accordingly and found success.

Program adviser Hanna Steinker explained how the team changed their usual processes.

“Our team uses the school each weekend as a home base for competitions. That allows for all members of our team to connect with one another and enjoy the activity together, even though things are predominantly online,” Steinker said.

Since their activities reside in the school, this allowed the students to have an experience that seemed more normal to them rather than having Zoom meetings from home. The process to send students to states changed during this season. Steiner explained that in addition to all the online competitions, the students had limited chances to earn spots at these completions.

“In a ‘normal’ season, students have the opportunity to ‘bid out’ at various tournaments in the fall and spring. Because of the virtual completion platform, all students had to ‘earn’ a spot at the district competition held on Saturday, February 6,” Steinker said.

After that competition, Revere High School qualified nineteen total students top the State tournament through the new system. Steinker explained this system more specifically, making the feat of qualifying Revere students more impressive.

“To earn a spot, students competed in three to four rounds of competition and their scores were ranked amongst the other students competing. On average, each event had around thirteen students competing, so our students were one of a few to earn a spot to the tournament from the Akron district,” Steinker said.
The challenges provided by this tougher qualification process came after the unfamiliar use of virtual meetings.

Speech and Debate member Sanchita Chandran explained that the team struggled at first to adjust to the technology.

“We faced some challenges in the beginning adapting to the online setting. A lot of the challenges stem from where to look in the camera, unmuting the mic, and working with COVID restrictions in the school during competitions,” Chandran said.

This added Zoom element to Speech and Debate provided an obstacle in the beginning, but soon the team adjusted and performed well in the numerous competitions. Chandran added that motivating Speech and Debate members to have ample participation in Zoom meetings posed a challenge.

“We took more of an initiative to make Speech and Debate more than just joining the Zoom, so we tried to engage people much more this season as it’s harder to have participation like a normal season,” Chandran said.

Among these added challenges were also positive changes when it came to the new processes. Speech and Debate member Adi Desai cited some of the positives that can explain from the new processes.

“The privacy of having your own room and the ease of not having to travel far to other schools for tournaments promoted convenience like no other year,” Desai said.

Along with the convenience that the new COVID regulations brought, the team also gained a stronger sense of communication.

“We saw success throughout the season. We strongly improved communication with our new head coach,” Desai said.

Students had to step up and lead to make sure everyone was getting the most out of this season. Steinker also referenced this type of leadership and sense of community that arose from the loss of an in-person connection.

“Our student leadership within Revere Speech and Debate stepped it up to make sure everyone felt connected as best they could,” Steinker said.

Where many elements of a normal Speech and Debate season were missing, the students stepped up their participation and multiple members will be representing Revere in the State tournament online from March 3rd to March 6th.