EVHS Introduces Their First Virtual BOTC

Due to distance learning, EVHS takes Battle of the Classes online.

EVHS+announces+%E2%80%9CChildhood+Cartoons%E2%80%9D+on+Instagram+as+the+theme+for+the+2020-2021+BOTC.

https://www.instagram.com/evhspride/?hl=en

EVHS announces “Childhood Cartoons” on Instagram as the theme for the 2020-2021 BOTC.

Karen Chen and Jason Lin

Each year at Evergreen Valley High School (EVHS), students gather together on campus to practice, plan, and create performances and designs for the Battle of the Classes (BOTC). Normally, after-school practices and meetings are held for students to share ideas and coordinate their plans for the big day. However, this year, BOTC has taken to a digital platform.

This year, BOTC is taking on “Childhood Cartoons” as their overarching theme. The Class of 2024 is representing Gravity Falls, the Class of 2023 is representing Pokemon, the Class of 2022 is representing Phineas and Ferb, and the Class of 2021 is representing The Power Puff Girls as their theme. Merchandise designed by students is also available for students to purchase in spirit of BOTC.

“I actually really like the theme that we chose. I also think that it is really fitting with the situation that we are in right now in the pandemic.”said Kalia Esters, president of 2021. “Lots of people have more time to watch shows or go back to shows that they watched as a child. So, I think it is a very inclusive theme that we chose.” 

Ms. Y, the Activities Director at EVHS, has been overseeing the students’ planning and coordinating of this year’s BOTC. As a supervisor, Ms. Y’s main goal for BOTC each year is aid and help students create events to tie the school together. 

The student officers do the planning and organization – I just oversee it all to make sure everything is as ROAR appropriate, safe and inclusive as possible,” said Ms. Y. 

Bringing BOTC to EVHS this year has been a new experience for the student body. With distance learning still playing a large role in daily student life, EVHS has decided to host BOTC online. Although many in-person events have been canceled or altered to fit a digital format, distance learning has made some aspects of planning easier for students and staff. 

“I was able to supervise almost all the practices – clubs and classes in the learning lounge zoom session – freeing up advisors’ time. It is easier to control content when it is pre recorded as well,” said Ms. Y. “Our team has been super creative and detailed in our planning – and that has helped tons. HUGE shout out to Kaila Esters – 2021 president and Jimmy Doan ASB President for their hard work and organization.”

The widespread usage of digital platforms such as Zoom has allowed for those behind the scenes to schedule meetings and efficiently get together. Practices for groups such as the Acting and Dance Crew (ADC) have also been moved to zoom. However, the lack of personal connection and energy at these events and activities have been a downside to the move to digital platforms. The energy and cheering of a crowd during performances brings a livelier atmosphere to BOTC, which people are unable to completely recreate online. 

“I think that they are really different, and they both have their pros and cons. And I am pretty happy with how virtual battle turned out even though we know that motivation is pretty low and it isn’t that exciting to be on the zoom or like to watch something that was pre recorded,” said Kaila. 

Ms. Y however is very thankful for the creativity and ideas that students have come up with in order to continue BOTC. 

Before the day of BOTC, students rally enthusiasm through activities and challenges through a Spirit Week. Students are encouraged to post and share their participation in daily challenges on Instagram. This week, students were challenged to sport their past and current BOTC merchandise, recreate their favorite cartoon characters, and join in on activities during lunch. 

EVHS announces their Spirit Week activities for the week of BOTC on Instagram. (https://www.instagram.com/evhspride/?hl=en)

Participants are showcased on the EVHS Instagram page along with polls on students’ favorite cartoons and student drawn illustrations produced by the BOTC Deco committees for each class.

Along with interactive posts on Instagram, EVHS has also hosted Esports competitions on their Twitch channel. This year EVHS has hosted Minecraft Bedwars, Minecraft Skywars, League of Legends, and Super Smash Bros Competitions. Online escape rooms are also another popular event that has encouraged student participation. This year’s escape room is Nancy Drew themed. Winners for all categories in Esports have been announced on Instagram.

I think Cougars are smart. They did not want to take the risk that in person events would have posed, and chose to make the best of online opportunities to interact and have fun,” said Ms. Y.

Kaila noted how the Esports and digital art events were especially popular with the students. 

I am really happy that we did reach out to Esports and get that event set up. I know that that club is pretty big and we get a lot of engagement from different parts of the group.” “They just reached a totally different demographic that we haven’t been able to each in in-person battle because we had no events that tended to that type of population,” said Kalia, “It is really cool to see on Instagram the college and the feed looks really cool. And people get really hyped up about good art.”

“(In) Battle you really get to see like ‘wow these people are talented in dancing, they’re really talented in art, and then like this person is really good at video games, this person is really good with digital art. So it was really cool to see,” said Kalia.

In the future, Kaila is considering adding Esports and Digital art as extra events for BOTC to host. She thinks this will provide a more engaging experience for students and also boost participation. 

“We would have Esports on the side and it could be something we stream after school. It would be a way for the different classes to get different points. Something that I think could be really cool is if we could somehow stream it in the big gym,” said Kaila. “So I think that would be cool to have that as a night time show where we just sit and watch the game. Cause I think that is really entertaining.”

The final performances of each class were held on Friday at 5:00 PM through a livestream. Students were able to either watch the stream on their own or join a watch party in the Learning Lounge. 

Each class performed a skit inspired by their cartoon theme and (ADC) performed a dance. Clubs such as IDC, EVHS Kababayan, Taiko Club, K-Club, and Polynesian Club. Each group showcased cultural dances and music. 

Despite that many challenges online, it proved to be a very popular event which brought students from all over the community together. 

“I was satisfied. I understand that there was a big struggle because of distance learning and just the covid pandemic stuff going on. So, under the circumstances, I thought it was really fun and I would do it again if I had too,” said Sophia Rhodes, a sophomore at EVHS. “Of course I would like to do it in person, but I feel like the alternative we had for distance learning and all the activities have been really enjoyable.” 

For Sophia, the engagement and overall friendly feel of Battle was what really made it so enjoyable. 

“It almost makes you feel like you want to turn on your camera sometimes, which I know a lot of people struggle with. But when they do turn on their camera in the lunch time activities it really shows that the leadership students are doing something good,” said Sophia.

Sophia also thinks that many of the improvements made to Battle this year were quite successful, especially in regards to the interactive polls and Esports games. 

“To make it interactive. The polls are something I think we should reuse because that was really interactive and a lot of people really enjoyed it,” said Sophia. “Everyone likes a good competition. I also really liked the Esports games and I think that if those were more easily available for people to watch. It would be fun.”

As a recommendation, Sophia believes that teachers should also get more involved in Battle. She stated how she felt that teachers promoting Battle could be a fantastic way to both encourage participation as well as help break the ice with students.

“If they see their teachers in a different light, they might be encouraged to do better in that class. Especially during distance learning, it is hard for everyone and it could also help teachers if they get better bonds with students during this time,” said Sophia. “Something we need to realize is that everyone is struggling: teachers, students, parents, everyone. So I think to take into account that, involving the teachers could really benefit a lot.” 

Overall the students and teachers  were quite satisfied with this year’s Battle. With experimental events like Esports turning out great results, the future looks bright for an evermore engaging and inclusive BOTC event. 

“I think that battle, homecoming, and anything similar to it really gives all the classes this bond,” said Sophia. “The people that participate really connect and are able to make new friends and are able to socialize, and to live their high school out the best way they can. Everyone should have access to this.”