Returning to School: Performance Arts and Athletics


Girl’s Volleyball: Mihira Murthy (9)

I’m an outside hitter for Irvington’s Girls Volleyball Team. With COVID, not just in school but also with club teams, there are a lot more regulations. You don’t really have the ability to practice as much because there’s stricter time slots. And then, for a whole year, everything was shut down so you couldn’t even play at all. Half of my club season got cut short, because of COVID. All of the tournaments that we’re planning, everything, all of that was canceled. Those things definitely affected your ability to play.

It was like we were practicing for so long, maybe two or three months, every single week. And then all of a sudden, we just couldn’t go to any tournament, anything that we were playing for, practicing for. It was obviously kind of disappointing, to be practicing that hard and working to get that much better and then not being able to actually see our results. Everything just got shut down.

Mihira Murthy

When we have practice, we have to wear a cloth mask at all times. It’s not like a surgical mask, which is much thinner. We can only remove it if we want to drink water, but it’s different at other schools we’ve played at. When we went to Alameda High, they told us we didn’t have to wear masks at all. At James Logan, they said we could remove it for a second if we got tired. Different schools have different agendas on masks that they’re enforcing.We’re keeping our masks on for most of the time, since we’d rather be safe than sorry. 

There’s always this pressure to do well in games and practices. On the first day of open gyms and tryouts, I was feeling really self conscious because I hadn’t seen everybody in so long. I was like, “This is going to be their first impression of me”. But when I actually play, I think more about my form and how I’m actually playing, so it hasn’t been a big issue. 

Coming back in-person, having practice after being in school for a full day, makes us a lot more tired than we’d usually be. All of us have sleep schedules that aren’t completely fixed yet, so by the time it gets to practice, we’re so worn out. We have to keep pushing, but I feel that as we keep going through the season, we’re getting stronger and it’s getting better. There’s also a lot of new people, so we’ve made bonds because we have 30 minutes after school every day. That’s helped us with playing together too. 

I definitely think we can return strong. We’ve been putting in so much work. Even with the regulations, like having to wear thicker cloth masks, we’ve been following all the rules and guidelines that have been given to us. And there’s obviously some minor roadblocks. But most of the time we’ve been able to overcome what’s been in our way. And we’re all just really excited, because we haven’t played together in so long, and everything that we’ve missed in the past year, we’re getting again. 

Mihira Murthy

Theatre: Ananya Bamidipati (10)

I’m Ananya, and I’ll be playing the mother in the Irvington Theater Conservatory’s adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time

When it comes to COVID-19 regulations, we are having some difficulties because we’re wearing masks, and it’s harder to project our voices through them. Everyone has quieter voices in general because of this, and even when we’re doing a table read, it’s still pretty hard to adjust to.

That said, most of us have gotten used to it. We’re wearing masks all day during school anyways. For theater especially, there’s a lot of listening involved. I think I have a pretty loud voice, and I think I project pretty well. But when I was auditioning and reading my lines, I was asked to speak up, and I had to remember, “Oh, that’s because of the mask!” I think as we learn to adjust our voices, everything will get much easier from that point on. 

For A Wrinkle in Time specifically, there’s a few major cast members and then the larger ensemble. It’s also a sort of sci-fi type story, so there’s a lot of visual effects that need to be coordinated between the actors, and it’s kind of difficult to do when everyone’s trying to make sure they’re spread apart from each other with social distancing. 

We also have rehearsal until 6:30, every weekday. It’s really tiring, but it’s also a lot of fun to participate in. I think I’m doing alright adjusting. I’m trying to learn how to be more loud because even though I hear myself and think I’m loud, I don’t hear it from the audience’s perspective.

 I think everyone has been adapting to the new regulations, and it could’ve been really bad, but everyone’s working so hard to make this work.

Ananya Bamidipati

For people who are new to doing productions, I think it’s a bit harder to adjust to. It’s difficult to be far away from everyone else, and it’s a bit of a nuisance for theater to be honest. Most people are working really hard and adjusting to protocols. I think we’re okay with the amount of restrictions too, because yes, masks and social distancing do cause some complications, but we can deal with it. Also, we’re actually taking advantage of the masks in terms of character design. With the Laramie Project last year, it was completely pre recorded over Zoom and edited together. But Theory of Relativity was in-person, and everyone wore masks that were clear in the front, so you could see their mouths moving. I think it was a pretty good idea to use different masks depending on the character being portrayed with A Wrinkle in Time, since it adds to the costume design. 

I think everyone wants to do their part. It’s coming together pretty well. We want to create a show that people are going to enjoy, and even though I haven’t done theater for that long, I want to be a part of that. Everyone’s working really hard to make this a reality again, and you can see it in our work ethic.

Band: Cameron Tran (11)

I’m the assistant drum major for marching band and co-field conductor for fieldshow at Irvington. 

COVID-19 has affected the marching band program a lot, especially last year, when we went completely online. Going online really stunted everyone’s ability to march and practice the fundamentals, and that’s affected this year because we now have two classes, freshmen and sophomores, which are filled with relatively new marchers for the most part. That said, I don’t think teaching them has changed too much from previous years, because they did learn some fundamentals last year at least. 

I think band reviews this year might be a bit shaky at first because some people lack parade experience and especially since Junior Varsity will have less people to look up to, to help guide them throughout the season. I’m sure they’ll get the hang of it though, especially in the later reviews this season. When talking to the marching director, Mr. Benavides, he said that we showed a lot of promise and had the potential to be a really great band.

Cameron Tran

That said, we definitely have a lot of restrictions on performance in comparison to other classes. In ensemble, we can’t play inside, so we have to practice outside, and there’s totally different acoustics that really mess with how we play and sound. We also have bell covers for some instruments and although it does allow for less aerosols to be spread, it hinders our ability to really blend together. 

On the other hand, for marching band, there haven’t been any specific things that really hinder us in comparison to previous years. There are masks, but they aren’t a big issue. I haven’t heard many complaints about the masks, though we did have to buy specific instrument masks that allow us to wear them and play at the same time. The biggest problem we had with that was ordering the right sizes, since some of the masks are really small and don’t fit on people’s faces. 

I think that the spirit of the band is pretty similar from previous years right now. Last year, it was a bit lacking because people couldn’t play together in a band, and not much was happening for the band program. We didn’t have competitions, we couldn’t practice together in ensembles, stuff like that, so this year people had a bit of trouble getting used to playing in a band with other people. 

I’m really excited to see how the band progresses. And in these past few weeks, I’ve been seeing a lot of improvement with the band and a lot of people putting time and effort to try and get us to be great again, and bounce back from last year. 

Cameron Tran