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Students Make COVID Adaptations to Extracurricular Activities

afaterschoolCross country team wears masks when they run.Classroom learning is not the only school activity that has been forced to change due to the pandemic. Along with a shift in their core curriculum classes, Scarsdale High School students also face challenges participating in extracurricular activities, especially those that cannot be feasibly conducted via an online platform. From clubs to sports teams, Scarsdale High Schools students have had to formulate creative ways to remain involved in their beloved activities while conforming to safety requirements.

Sports
Whether Scarsdale High School students are able to participate in school sports depend on the nature of each sport. Tennis and cross-country teams are able to run as scheduled as they require minimal contact between players whereas the football and volleyball seasons have been postponed as they are more hands-on. The lack of sports for high schoolers has hindered them from experiencing a sense of community and joy that they miss on their academically orientated school days.

Even the sports programs that are in process have required modifications. The tennis team requires all players to wear masks the entire time, social distance, and use their own cans of tennis balls. Students must mark their balls with a sharpie to prevent the spread of COVID while wearing masks to prevent the spread through interactions with teammates. Going to tennis matches is more difficult now as coaches have to balance those parents who feel comfortable with their students taking the bus with those parents who would prefer to drive their children instead. “Overall, the pandemic has not had as big an effect on tennis as it has had for other team sports because, in tennis, players are generally more spread out. During the summer, SHS allowed residents to play singles on the courts as long as they reserved courts beforehand and practiced social distancing,” described Lilac Lin, a junior on Scarsdale’s Varsity Tennis Team.

Likewise, the cross country team has required all athletes to wear face masks during practice, making it more difficult for members to breathe while also maintaining social distance. Furthermore, the shorter season has limited the number of meets this year, which is especially devastating to upperclassmen. The parks where the teams typically race aren’t allowing meets to take place, and they have to compete on make-shift courses and school campuses. “The pandemic has made it much harder to participate in cross country especially because if one person gets sick, pretty much the entire team will be quarantined and we’ll be out for much of the seasons,” mentioned Sara Wong, a junior on Scarsdale’s cross-country team.

Other sports teams such as football have been postponed to the spring, leaving many students saddened by the news, but at the same time aware of the current circumstances. “At the end of the day, when I next get to play football is not a decision in my hands, so while it’s upsetting that I do not get to know when exactly that will be, all I can do is prepare in the meantime on my own and with my teammates for when that time comes,” reflected Julian Glantz, a junior on Scarsdale’s football team.

As many participate in sports to partake in an enjoyable activity while fostering a sense of community with their fellow peers, others see it as a path to the future. The pandemic has made it increasingly difficult for those eager to get recruited to play a sport in college as scouts are unable to see them demonstrate their abilities in-person. “Last summer, I was planning on visiting some college campuses and hopefully building some relationships with coaches. That of course did not happen. I also would have liked to have had some film from the fall season to send to coaches, but obviously no season made that impossible. Especially, considering the fact that there is high school football going on elsewhere, not having a season where we live is a major setback in terms of being able to make connections with coaches,” added Glantz ’22.

Although it is certainly different, Scarsdale High School athletes are thankful for the hard work and planning that the administration has put in to allow them to play their respective sports. “I’m grateful that the administration made the decision to continue sports because, even if we do not get the full experience, playing on a team is still rewarding in many ways,” concluded Lin ’22.

The Arts
Along with sports, the arts have been impacted in a number of devastating ways. Scarsdale High School’s Drama Club, which typically has weekly in-person rehearsals, has now had to adapt to rehearsing via Zoom. In order to produce their current play, Spoon River, they are pre-recording the show and then live streaming it. “The pandemic has made theater very hard to do because it makes it difficult to rehearse and you can’t have an audience. And [with] the way streaming rates work, we are not able to charge for tickets... When it comes to singing, it’s hard to sing in a mask. But actors are resilient and adaptable, so we figured out ways to make it work. The pandemic has really made me appreciate being able to perform,” said Isabelle Haller, an officer of the SHS Drama Club.

Scarsdale High School’s orchestra and band have also had to adjust to practicing via Zoom on InstrumentsMusicians carry their instruments all day.school days; thus, it is increasingly difficult to produce music pieces as online platforms tend to lag and technology prevents a sense of community. Before the pandemic, the orchestra would all crowd into the small orchestra room four times a week and practice using school instruments as well as school music. Now, the orchestra only meets once a week in-person and every other week classes alternate having early morning rehearsals. They also must carry instruments and music to class to minimize high touch areas while maintaining a distance of six feet apart in the classroom. “With our concert coming up in about four weeks, no one feels prepared because that’s only four classes away. We are not getting as much group playing time and the majority of it is individual. The pandemic really does hinder our knowledge and relationship of/with, not only the music, but our peers and Mr. Williams,” described Alexandra McCarthy, a student in the orchestra.

Clubs
A majority of clubs, both academic and community service based, have had to switch to a virtual setting. For instance, Scarsdale High School’s newspaper, the Maroon, now meets weekly in a virtual setting to produce content for their website. As a result, it makes it harder for students who have recently joined the club to fully participate and gain an understanding of how the club operates. Likewise, the student government has had to move online and are unable to have their normal homeroom meetings because of the adjusted schedule. “[The pandemic] has made accomplishing goals such as raising money and bringing our classmates together more difficult because we are unable to have typical fundraising or community building events. On the other hand COVID has given us more causes and ways to help out with the events we are able to have and money we are able to raise,” reflected Peter Troiano, a house representative in the junior class government.

Whereas some academic clubs have only been affected slightly, the Speech and Debate Team has been altered immensely. The teamsZoomLDDebate team now meets via Zoom. normally meet twice a week in-person to practice their material, engage with teammates and prepare for competitions. Typically, they have overnight tournaments on weekends where they get to compete with public speakers and debaters in other states, allowing them to meet high school students in new places. Since the coronavirus broke out, students are unable to attend the tournaments that make the team, in large part, so special. Rather than traveling on a plane or bus to other states, they now travel to their bedroom desks where they engage in virtual tournaments that often have technical issues and a lack of moral support from team members. On a positive note, this has made debate space more accessible to competitors whose schedules or resources precluded them from traveling.

“I think the team has been affected in many ways by the pandemic, one of them being the actual team dynamic. It’s much harder to actually connect with new members and old members through the impersonal Zoom meetings. Additionally, it has become slightly harder to engage new members in the material that is being taught,” mentioned Caroline Shi, an officer for Scarsdale High School’s Varsity LD Debate team.

Likewise, Model United Nations (MUN) has been negatively affected as the team is unable to travel to conferences and meet people from all around the world. “Our club is not just conferences and weekly meetings, but also the community involved. In a typical year we host dinners and other out of school events to strengthen the community bond. This is virtually impossible this year,” stated Lindsey Smith, an officer of Scarsdale MUN’s team. MUN is planning their first in-person meeting this week by separating the cohorts and making sure they meet in a large space such as the Learning Commons.

It is certain that the pandemic has made it difficult for SHS students to participate in extracurriculars ranging from sport teams to clubs. However, it has also allowed students to explore passions from their own homes and learn how much they truly appreciate their activities.

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