Annual sophomore debates different due to COVID-19


photo by Sheila Moore

Link Honeysett and his teammates face Zoe Pramuk and her team in their debate. Remote students had to join their team via Google Meet.

Due to COVID-19, the sophomore English II class debates looked a little different than in past years. Both remote and in-person learners brought a new set of challenges to the table for student-teacher TillieAnn Boliard. 

“The debates are definitely taking a lot of flexibility and planning,” Boliard said. 

Every remote or quarantined student had to plan a time when they could do their debate. These students are not allowed to come in person so they use Google Meet to join their team. With that change comes possible WiFi and computer issues. 

“I grade not just on can they write a speech, but can they present a speech, and that’s hard to do when their mic isn’t working or their internet isn’t working,” Boliard said. 

Having no experience in teaching a debate unit before, Boliard is doing everything she can to make it go smoothly for all of her students. 

“The only difference was we couldn’t be so close together,” in-person learner Zoe Pramuk said. 

In past years students were able to sit side by side with their teammates to discuss, but this year students were staggered in a line facing in one direction with their back to their teammates. 

“When we were doing the crossfire and talking, we had to write most things down and give it to the person who was speaking,” Pramuk said. 

There were quite a few debate teams that were impacted by having teammates who had to be at home while giving their debate speech. 

“It definitely felt like there was a barrier between me and the classroom,” temporary remote learner Link Honeysett said. “I wasn’t there doing the debate but I was separated from them and I didn’t feel like I was doing a debate, it was like I was just reading off of a piece of paper.”