Competition-based clubs persevere through the pandemic’s challenges

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Gabrielle Wheeler '23

Sacred Heart Greenwich students continue to compete despite the pandemic’s restrictions.

Though 2020 has brought much uncertainty in wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the academic teams at Sacred Heart Greenwich are certain that they will be competing this year.  Sacred Heart is home to Model United Nations (UN), Mock Trial, Robotics, Science Olympiad, and Speech and Debate teams that are all finding innovative ways to continue preparing for their competitions.

In a typical year, the Model UN club heads, seniors Karina Adams, Destini-Joy (DJ) Green, Olivia (Liv) Lockwood, Sasha Rivera, and Ursula Vollmer, use their meetings to prepare for conferences such as the Princeton Model UN Conference.  This year, the club plans to attend virtual conferences with the possibility of attending an inperson conference held in the spring. 

Before a typical Model UN conference, participants spend hours meeting with their co-delegates, working on position papers and resolutions, and preparing speeches.  Delegates submit position papers before the conference and present their country’s stance on the issues that they will discuss in their committees.  As the team is often busy preparing for their conference in October, this year’s changes bring new opportunities for additional practice. 

The Mock Trial team recruits new members for this year’s virtual competition season.  Courtesy of Annabelle Hartch ’21

Previously, the Sacred Heart Model UN participants would stay at a hotel for the duration of the conference along with participants from other schools.  Liv explained that virtual conferences could make it hard for delegates to collaborate with their teammates and stay focused all weekend. 

“I think that it may be difficult because we are usually able to have nearly 100 people per committee sharing speeches and creating resolutions,”  Liv said.

Seniors Annabelle Hartch, Eloise Moulton, and Lily Santangelo, captains of the Mock Trial team, are working alongside Mr. Matthew Meyer, Upper School History Teacher, to ensure a smooth transition to the virtual competitions.  The team plans to compete in the virtual Civics First Connecticut Mock Trial Competition.  Virtual competitions present a challenge in terms of incorporating objections, a large part of Mock Trial, and involve the interruption of the other team’s flow of speech.

“It will be an adjustment for the team to prepare for a virtual competition, but I know everyone is up for the challenge,” Lily said. 

One of the most evident changes to Mock Trial this year is their inability to meet in person as a whole group.  The captains plan to split meetings into two groups in two separate rooms to maintain social-distancing protocols as well as practice the entire trial over Zoom prior to the official competition. 

The Robotics team, under the direction of co-captains sophomore Kristin Morrow and junior Angélique Wheeler, plans to attend the First Tech Challenge that will take place in January or February.  As of right now, the competition will be in-person.  The club also plans to conduct meetings as a whole group.

“Our team is small, so it will be easy to social distance and still be able to work together on the robot,” Angélique said.

Angélique Wheeler ’22 and Kristin Morrow ’23 run the Sacred Heart Robotics team.  Leah Allen ’22

The Science Olympiad team, newly started last year, missed out on their first chance to attend the Connecticut State Science Olympiad Competition April 4, due to concerns regarding COVID-19.  Co-captains junior Angélique Wheeler and sophomore Gabrielle Wheeler plan for the team to attend this year’s Connecticut state competition.  The state tournament is currently scheduled to take place in March. 

The team’s goal is to rank first place, which would earn the team an invitation to the national competition.  The captains are aiming for each team member to receive a medal and to grow as a team. 

The Speech and Debate team does not have answers regarding the details of this year’s season yet, but the members are certain that they will be ready in any circumstance.  Senior Piper Gilbert, captain of the team, plans to continue working on speeches in preparation of future competitions.

“I want us all to pick pieces and prep on specific issues so we can hit the ground running as soon as tournaments are made available to us,” Piper said.  “Since meetings this year will be different with the new schedule, I’m hoping to run some ‘in-house tournaments’ which will consist of us presenting prepared pieces and debating in Parliamentary and Congress styles.”

Featured Image by Gabrielle Wheeler ’23