VP Activities October Update
It goes without saying that this year looks nothing like any of us anticipated or hoped. An undeniably trying time for so many people (and for so many reasons), this year is a demonstrable challenge. A letdown. A stress. A source of anxiety and fear. There are a million words we could use to describe our shared reality right now, but the truth is even more simple than any long-winded, intellectual exposition: this year is just hard.
And it is ok to feel that.
One of the single most powerful things we can do for our students, our colleagues, and our shared cause is to recognize our own limits when facing an extraordinary situation. It’s ok to need a break. It’s ok to need help. It’s ok to rely on each other for shared resources, but also just shared human experiences. Please know that any time, but especially in times like these, you are not a better or worse person because of how much trauma you can force yourself to tolerate. For those that are marginalized in this activity and in the world in general, these stressors are exacerbated even more. That’s true in life in general, but it’s especially true as we approach a completely new world for education and competition.
“There’s a lot of work that we have to do. There’s always going to be a lot of work for us to do. But you have to take care of yourself. And so I charge you to not let your life be consumed by the work, ’cause taking care of yourself is part of the work.”
— Tarana Burke, founder of the Me Too movement.
So, I charge everyone reading this to go into this season led by empathy for our students, for each other, and for ourselves. Let’s be patient, kind, and generous, whether it is in how we organize our schedules or how we interpret rules in the virtual tabrooms. The world is hard enough right now, so lets make speech and debate a sanctuary that serves as a port in this storm.
With regard to the State Championship, I understand that many want to know if speech will be synchronous or asynchronous. Because I would like to observe what happens at tournaments during fall to determine which option is best for State, I will announce a final decision one way or the other by January 3, 2021. This determination will be sent to all League Presidents & Area Chairs to distribute to league members, as well as posted on the State Tournament page of our website, www.CHSSA.org. I appreciate your patience as I take some time to examine and learn from the many great Directors in our activity. I am thankful for so many who have offered to share information and resources in this regard. State 2021 will be held April 23-25 online. This means that leagues will need to complete all State Qualifiers by March 26, 2021. All entries for State will be due by April 2nd, 2021 at 5 PM.
As always, the State Champs is much more than just a competition: State is an event that means a ton to a whole lot of kids, coaches, and our community. Even though we will be virtual, my hope is to create the atmosphere of fun, educational competition that we have when we are able to hold our event in person. While we know it will never be the same as an in person tournament (or dinner dance!), amazing folks from CHSSA are working hard to come up with extra activities- outside of our usual phenomenal, nation-leading competition- that we can work into a virtual tournament to make it something special. Additionally, we are underway on ideas to implement our food insecurity program in this virtual format, since we know that hunger and economic struggles are only exacerbated given the state of the world.
If there is a silver lining to so much uncertainty for so many in the world, it’s that speech and debate is certain. Our tournaments may not look how we are accustomed to them looking, but we are fortunate to be one of the few extracurricular and competitive activities that can continue to exist and operate right now. More than ever, forensics is creating an outlet for students to express themselves and become advocates for a brighter and more just future. That is powerful.
And all of that isn’t an accident: it is through the hard work, determination, and adaption of people like you that this is possible for countless students across not only California, but the entire country. Whether it’s a coach navigating holding their first team practices on Zoom; folks like Aaron Hardy & Chris Palmer working day and night to create an accessible option for online competition like NSDA Campus; amazing community members like Jesse Garrett, Justin Kurup, Beth Lamana, Cameron Martin, Luca Moretti, Quest Sandel, and Sarah Sherwood fighting for more equitable competition spaces through the creation of tournament equity offices & best practices; or countless coaches and others in the community who are working to run virtual tournaments every single weekend (many for the first time ever). There are so many more of you that I could name, but please know that I am proud to work with each of you and I am inspired daily by the innovative, compassionate, thoughtful things you are coming up with. They say that necessity is the mother of invention and speech and debate in 2020 is proving that to be true. I hope that amidst this wacky reality of ours, you can take a moment to pause, look around at what our community is accomplishing, and be thankful not only for your colleagues & students, but also for yourself.
Above all, please know that we are here for you. I am here for you. And I am thankful that you are here, too.
Vice President of Activities | State Tournament Director
California High School Speech Association