COVID-19 affects club competition



Winning DECA members pose with their trophies and plaques.

Rohun Voruganti, Co-Sports Editor

The effects of COVID-19 at Westford Academy are still lingering in the community and still continue to affect the way extracurriculars compete.

DECA and Mock Trial Club are two clubs that were impacted this year because of COVID-related mandates.

DECA has changed tremendously since the peak of the virus. In the first year of COVID, the club was 100% remote. Last year, restrictions were loosened and they had a hybrid approach.

This year, they will be able to take a day trip to Boston to compete for finals. They will not be returning to the overnight portion of the trip just yet due to the risk of students contracting COVID-19.

“The biggest differences [between competition before the pandemic and] with COVID-19 are the lack of freedom to hang out and have fun, the constant concern of following the rules, and the restrictions of overnight field trips. Our trips around the country were always a highlight of the year for our members,” DECA advisor John Rogers said.

Many precautions are taken when students and faculty travel. Vaccination checks are done when they travel to Boston, per the state’s requirement. They operate in large, open-spaced areas and keep their masks on. The club had to change their award ceremony to an online version because the conference rooms were too small to meet the distancing needs.

“Despite the restrictions of COVID, they’ve [students] invested their time and efforts into our comprehensive program. At our District competition, WA won 60% of the awards and continued our pre-COVID dominance. They performed above and beyond expectations, under the leadership and guidance of our Co-Presidents Emily Carey and Diya Godavarti, and a very talented officer & leadership team. They were all MVPs this year,” Rogers said.

Additionally Head of Mock Trial and teacher at WA, Jonathan Meagher, also had a lot to say on the things COVID took away from him in his first year of leading the club. In a normal year, members would travel to a courthouse for all three of their trials and compete against different schools in front of a judge. This year, they ended up missing a lot of excitement they would normally have.

“All the trials were conducted online essentially via Zoom. So the trials were basically the same as they would always have [been] and [they] actually translated pretty well into a Zoom format. I think it was unfortunate to miss the experience of going to a real courthouse, and being in a real courtroom, which is a pretty cool experience, and being able to compete against another team right there in an actual courtroom,” Meagher said.

Unlike DECA, Mock Trial Club did not travel and held all of their meetings on Zoom, especially during the peak of the season in winter. In spite of these challenges, Meagher and his team went 2-1 in the season. They won against Tewksbury and Lowell, while losing to Newton South, the best team in the state, by only one point.

“It was really exciting for me to lead the team here at WA and get to know them. The best thing for me certainly is always working with the students; they are awesome, we have tremendously talented students here. They were a lot of fun to work with, and getting to know them, and, you know, seeing them express their talents is just the best part about it,” Meagher said.

Meagher and Rogers will look to continue their success throughout the pandemic and navigate their clubs through the times.