Academic Teams Continue to Work During Distance Learning

As many schools close to flatten the transmission curve of COVID-19, teammates become isolated and academic teams must adapt to online only contact


Leisa Komyo

Academic team members continue to show their passion and dedication to their team by communicating through Zoom meetings and other platforms.

For the Chemistry Olympiad, students taking their first year of chemistry take the first level exams and students taking a second level of chemistry, either an Advanced Placement (AP) class, International Baccalaureate course, or college course, take the AP level examination.Though the American Chemical Society canceled the first year exam for Chemistry Olympiad, the AP level teams already finished the first round.

The AP level Chemistry Olympiad team placed sixth out of 39 teams and the Science Olympiad team also won several medals in the regional competition, with the Water Quality group scoring highest of the Woodbridge High Science Olympiad teams and placing third overall. The Orange County Science and Engineering Fair changed to a virtual fair and the California State Science Fair and International Science Fair in Anaheim are cancelled.

Because these are novel times, high schools have to adapt to new conditions and academic teams must make adjustments to best reflect the circumstances.

Woodbridge is handling the situation really well, [since] this is an unprecedented time and it requires a lot of flexibility,” academic teams adviser and science teacher Crystal Cooper said. 

Academic Decathlon typically holds several meetings throughout the week from June through April but following the closure of the school, have shifted to conducting virtual meetings and conversing within chat rooms.The county competition was in late January, the state competition is in late March, and the grade 9/10 competition is in May. The 9/10 team continues to communicate through online meetings and distance tools like Edmodo, Kahoot, and chat rooms but the grade 11/12 team is no longer meeting.  

Though it can be hard to continue participating in activities when the future is uncertain, the satisfaction students may receive from participating may allow them to overcome obstacles like lethargy, confusion, or lack of motivation. 

“Students are still motivated because the type of student that would want to compete in [Academic Decathlon] is naturally independently motivated and driven, so the distance doesn’t necessarily hamper that” said Academic Decathlon adviser Shan Wu.

While Mock Trial competitions take place in the fall semester, the team is still looking towards the future and will begin preparing for the summer primers where potential members will work on a practice case. The team typically practices for eight hours a week over the course of three days during the fall season in order to prepare for the two JSerra High School competitions in mid-November and the four Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) trials at the Santa Ana courthouse. This year, the team made it to the top 16 teams in the county out of more than 50 schools. 

For the 25 person mock trial team, it is very important to work together and remain unified because mock trial is a group activity. 

“[Mock trial is] definitely more team focused. Although individual skills are important you are always as good as your weakest person, so we work together to improve our skills. At the end of the day, we win or lose as a team” said adviser Dane O’Barr. 

For the academic teams at Woodbridge High, fostering team spirit through continued communication is important for groups that have not yet competed or are eagerly awaiting the next season.