MISSOULA — Hundreds of students from across the state competed in the opening weekend of speech and debate season. But like all extracurricular activities, the contest looked pretty different this year.
Instead of teams traveling to other schools and speaking from a stage in front of an audience, Saturday was quiet. The competition was held virtually and students competed from their respective schools.
Because things like articulation and volume are important in speech and debate, students were separated into individual classrooms so they could take their masks off.
Hellgate Speech and Debate team coach Zach Bauerle says never mind the changes -- right now it’s just crucial that kids have something to focus on aside from the pandemic.
“I told my students it's like this is we're detaching from everything that's happening outside. And I know that it's very unique situation and even, you know, while we're practicing and everyone's wearing masks and everything is still unique,” Bauerle said.
“But I think this provides students like an opportunity for a little bit, just like you know for a few hours a day, to just detach from everything that's happening outside and be able to focus on something that's, you know, productive towards their academics and their professional career careers later on,” Bauerle added.
The Speech and Debate season runs through February, and all future competitions will be held virtually.