Junior Tony Xin said that this year was the projected “golden year” for the Science Olympiad team, but all future competitions have been effectively canceled due to COVID-19.
For the past couple years, the team has been consistently winning second place at the state level competition, which prevented them from going to Nationals. This year however, Mira Loma, the school that typically gets first, did worse than anticipated in the initial invitational competitions, whereas the MVHS team had been consistently winning.
“There’s a competition aspect, but it’s also a community. A lot of time has been put into this, and then it was just canceled, so we’re all very disappointed,” Xin said.
Xin added that the team is very close and looked forward to their bi-weekly meetings to study their specific topics and events. Each year, Science Olympiad changes its topics, but due to the competitions being canceled this year, the same topics will remain next year to make sure the students’ hard work does not go to waste.
While Xin is a junior and has the chance to participate in the competition again next year, he added that he sympathizes with seniors who are missing their last chance at going to nationals and last year spent studying and competing with the team.
Similarly, the MVLA Speech and Debate team had several local tournaments canceled and others moved online, including the national Tournament of Champions that debaters work hard to qualify for all year.
Junior Angelina Liu, the parliamentary debate captain from LAHS, said that the team is utilizing Zoom for online practices, but they are challenging to organize and execute. Liu said the leadership team is working to increase student engagement and retain members through activities such as online debate rounds with other schools and drills and exercises to improve core skills.
According to Liu, debate tournaments are a huge part of why she loves the club, and the cancellations have made her feel less engaged.
During tournaments, Liu said she gets to talk and spend time with friends from different schools that she doesn’t normally get to see, one of the reasons she was upset about the cancellation of a local tournament at Santa Clara University in March.
“If you don’t have these tournaments, you don’t get the same joy that you get when you’re competing,” Liu said.
The robotics team’s competition season was also canceled due to the virus, preventing the team from going to their two regional competitions in the hopes of qualifying for nationals and worlds.
According to senior and team member Kseniia Stiagun, the team was projected to do extremely well, as the robot they were building was operating very well. Last year, the team won 4th place at the World Championships.
Several other competitive clubs had their competitions rescheduled or canceled completely, including Model United Nations, who did not attend an international conference at UC Berkeley due to student concerns about the virus before the state’s lockdown.
According to club president Katherine Wang, a team from Math Modeling Club qualified for the Modeling the Future national symposium in Chicago, but it was replaced by an online symposium via Zoom. Wang said she was disappointed the trip was canceled, as it was all expenses paid and an opportunity for the team to present their papers and network with actuaries.
Also disrupted are all school-sponsored trips due to the virus, including the Madrigals choir trip to New Zealand. Every year, the Madrigals, the most advanced, audition-only group within the choir, go on a two-week trip in April to sing and explore a different region.
Junior Kari Hjelmeset said this was her first year in Madrigals, and while the trip’s cancellation was difficult for her, she understands the necessity.
“It’s hard to stay positive, but I feel like that’s all I can really do. It just still seems unreal that this is all happening. Getting my trip canceled for Madrigals and getting my season basically canceled for lacrosse… it seems like the end of the world for me,” Hjelmeset said. “A lot of other families around the world have it a lot worse.”
Hjelmeset said the trip cost around 5,000 dollars and they were getting around 60 percent of the money back. The trip was canceled by the school before New Zealand officially closed its borders and the Bay Area went on lockdown.
The school trip to Iwata, Japan, was also canceled. According to Iwata participant and junior Brandon Freiberg, the extensive application process started last spring. He said after the 25 students were chosen, they all worked extremely hard to prepare for the trip.
“We learned a bit of Japanese and we learned a lot about Japanese culture,” Freiberg said. “It was a lot of preparation for the cultural exchange; we were going to put on an entire 45-minute long assembly for the school and we had to prepare gifts.”
Freiberg said he was especially excited to meet his host family, and learn more about their culture. The group was also planning to visit other parts of Japan, notably Tokyo, which Freiberg said he was excited to visit because of the city’s preparation for the 2020 Olympics.
Freiberg said the trip’s cancellation was disappointing and abrupt, but he is grateful for the opportunity.
“Even though we didn’t go on the trip, because we put so much effort and time into organizing it and learning about the culture and the language, we still benefited from being in the program and learned a lot,” Freiberg said. “It was just disappointing that we didn’t actually go to Japan.”
Several other school-sponsored trips were canceled due to COVID-19, including all AVID field trips, the concert choir’s trip to Sacramento, the Oracle’s trip to Nashville, and the Thespian club’s trips to the Ashland Oregon Shakespeare Festival and California State Thespian Festival.
Hjelmeset said that though she was really looking forward to her trip to New Zealand, she understands the greater significance of her actions.
“These are just some of the consequences that I have to go through for the chance that people can get better and we can eventually get to a better society without coronavirus,” Hjelmeset said.
For more details on canceled trips and events: https://www.mvla.net/About-MVLA/General-Information/COVID-19-MVLA-Event-Cancellations/index.html