Competing Virtually

During this year’s schedule of  competitions,  Diamond Bar High School organizations will be  competing from the confines of students’ homes, providing a different experience for all members.

        The general structure of competitions hasn’t changedstudents still have various events to participate in, such as tests, or an event that has judges. Senior Erin Zhou, the student leader of Distributive Education Clubs of America, said that the biggest contrast between online and in-person competitions is the social aspect.

“Usually the best part of the competitions is being at the conference with your friends and exploring the city, but that can’t happen online,” Zhou said via Instagram.

Starting in December and ending in January, DECA held meetings to  discuss how to attend the meeting virtually and how to upload items in order to ensure efficient test-taking. To prepare for tests, students study for their respective subjects using resources like textbooks or online videos; DECA officers composed Google Drive folders with previous tests taken for competitors to reference. This is similar to the way that competitions were prepared for the previous years.

        Clubs don’t need to distribute physical materials to students since they only need simple test-taking materials such as a pen and paper. However, installing a third-party proctoring software in order to simply monitor students’ activity while taking the exams is mandatory for most clubs, along with a webcam.

        Since in-person tests were previously taken in a quiet environment, some students may face challenges due to their unorthodox conditions.

“It’s sometimes harder for students to focus on the exam when, say, their little brother is yelling at his video games in his room,” senior USABO student leader Luke Zhou said.

        For USA Biology Olympiad, competition season began this month  and lasts  until April. However, for those who attend the international Olympiads, it ends mid-summer.

        Though it’s difficult to find any positives in a situation that is less than ideal, some club officers have found that working in a home environment has the ability to be beneficial. Some resources such as online folders are easily accessible on a computer to study. However, seeing as the aforementioned environment isn’t always suited for test-taking, it can also be seen as an obstacle.

“You’re in the comfort of your own home, an asset that can either help or hinder you,” Zhou said.

Similarly , Health Occupations Students of America competitions are adjusted to fit an online environment, and events this year are focused on testing as opposed to more interactive activities, like hands-on teamwork events. HOSA has started online study sessions that are supposed to mimic studying together in person.

 “We offer study sessions during which you can collaborate with others or just study in peace,” senior Nitin Murali, club officer of HOSA, said. “With that, we also provide links and resources for each and every competition you might choose to take part in.”

The club’s goal is to simply try its best as they compete through March 7.

“If everyone does their due diligence and gives a solid attempt at both their studying and events, I think we will be happy, regardless of the quantitative results,” Murali said.