Speech, drama and debate teams in Montana had to get accustomed to a new norm because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and so far, the Sidney High School teams have done just that.
Despite the challenge that comes with doing events virtually, the teams have adjusted from their usually series of events and are competing well in their season.
On top of that, the teams have been improving one virtual meet at a time, and with an important stretch of events coming up, they will need to continue to improve and do well.
The head coach of speech, drama and debate, Gail Staffanson, discussed how the teams have done and how the season has gone with the different format.
Q: Overall, how have the first competitions gone and how have the students performed?
A: Well, we have had three virtual meets, and they have gotten progressively better. Each week we have had more students join us to compete. (At the Havre event) the drama placed second in the state. The students are consistently improving each week.
Q: Looking back at the first events so far, what are the areas where the students have done really well so far, and what are some things they can improve on as the season keeps going?
A: The students have adapted very well to virtual meets. They have been respectful to other contestants and to the classrooms that they are performing in. As to improvement--they could always practice more consistently and dedicate more time after practice to improving their performances. Of course at the competitions that could always be more prepared and memorized.
At the Havre virtual meet, Sidney students finished with some good placings, as the program finished with six top-five placings, which ranged from individual students to teams of students competing.
One thing to note about Staffanson’s thoughts on the season is that more students have been competing each week.
Before the season started, Staffansn said that because the meets were virtual, it diminished their numbers a bit, but if more students have joined to compete each week, that is a good sign for the program for this season.
The next meet for Sidney is Saturday, as the Eagles compete at the virtual Miles City event.
After that, the teams have a virtual meet (with Corvallis hosting) on Jan. 15 and Jan. 16. Then starting on Jan. 22, the teams will start their postseason: Billings Central is the virtual host for the Eastern Class A Divisional on Jan. 22 and Jan. 23.
Then, to round out the season, the Class A State competition will be hosted virtually by Sidney, and that competition takes place on Jan. 29 and Jan. 30.