Competitions amidst the pandemic

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First Lego League Team wins second consecutive bid at 2019 Regional Competition. (Photo/Lisa Quinn)

As the first month of the academic year is coming to a close, clubs have done their parts in maintaining meetings and events both on and off campus. Although it may not have been what students initially imagined joining some of the over 70 of extracurriculars Heritage offers, Google Meets technology has allowed distance learners to easily communicate with their teachers and classmates and has sustained a positive reputation so far. However, with competitions being one of the major aspects of AHS, several clubs that were once heavily involved in competitions across the state and country, are now put in a tough position.

Mr. Richard Rovere, head of math competition, said he faced a lot of struggles in regards to the tests themselves and how to promote academic integrity as the competitions are now online.  

“Math Competition has been hit hard,” Mr. Rovere said. “All of the competitions we have participated in for the past 15 years have had to make significant adjustments in response to the pandemic. Several big competitions ceased all together, [and] the ones who have remained have essentially gone all digital.” 

Rovere also stated that math competition students are currently using a rigorous training program to practice, and they are patiently waiting for any updates in relation to future competition statuses. Many of these students share similar concerns with their coach, and considering the amount of dedication this competition takes, this is understandable. 

“Math comp shifted entirely online this year, and now class is on weekends,” freshman Vishkha Joshi said. “It’s a little bit draining to sit through 4 hours of math class on my Saturday’s, and with studying and testing, my schedule is kind of packed. But considering the circumstances, they’ve done a pretty good job to try to give us the same quality of practice that we would get in person, and I’m honestly a little relieved that at least that aspect of school is still there. It gives distance learning a little sense of normality.”

Every year, Heritage co-hosts the FAMAT January regional competition at FAU. However, due to the pandemic, competitions will proceed differently. (Photo/Jin Kwon)

The pandemic has also taken a toll on Lower School and Junior High Competitions; Mrs. Lisa Quinn, coach of the 4-7 grade First Lego League (FLL) Robotics team, recently had to cancel the “auditioning process” of selecting the team. “In terms of our robotics FLL team, we’re still trying to figure things out, but we do know this: we are not taking on any new students because we usually have a Boot Camp of at least 40+ students. Obviously, that’s not an option anymore. But the silver lining is we get to take back our ‘old team.’”

FLL not only involves the coding of a robot, it also entails the creation of a project tackling a problem in society and team bonding exercises. Mrs. Quinn believes that as long as the team is committed, there is definitely a possibility of attending the regional competition as the team has done in past years.

The likelihood of competitions and club meetings going back to normal is a stretch, as safety will always come as priority for the betterment of students and society as a whole. Until then, AHS will continue to move forward with Phase Two of the distance learning process, and competitive clubs will continue to adapt to the changes as best as possible during these circumstances. 

Kayla Giset, freshman at American Heritage School in Plantation Fl., is endeavoring in her first year on the Newsmagazine staff. As an avid Netflix-binger and book-reader, there is never a dull moment in the writer’s life. If Kayla isn’t studying for an upcoming test, you’ll find her on the ice rink or reading a Marvel comic. She has watched every Marvel cinematic masterpiece at least four times, and hopes to eventually direct a film of her own.

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