“The Addams Family” musical put on by Woodside drama students is one of the many events canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Taila Lee)
“The Addams Family” musical put on by Woodside drama students is one of the many events canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Taila Lee

A Look at Woodside’s “Non-Essential Activities”

Following district guidelines regarding the coronavirus, a number of prominent student activities were deemed “non-essential” and prohibited from continuing. Here’s a closer look at four of them.

The Musical

The+Musical

Woodside Drama Boosters

Woodside High School’s spring musical “The Addams Family” has been postponed until further notice due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Under district guidelines, meetings of large groups are prohibited, so the cast members are not allowed to perform nor rehearse.

“It was really sad because we put so much work into it,” said Lourdes Arteaga, a Woodside senior playing Wednesday Addams in the musical. “It was so devastating when they told us it was canceled.”

Many were upset because they were stopped in the middle of a rehearsal.

“We were all at rehearsal, and we had to go home in the middle of rehearsal because we got the email and weren’t allowed to stay any longer,” recalled Hazel Griffin, a Woodside senior playing Morticia Addams. “It was really, really devastating.”

Dominic Constantz, a Woodside senior and a guitarist in the pit orchestra, was also disappointed by the postponement.

“I wasn’t angry; I was very disappointed that the county decided to react the way they did,” said Constantz. “I think this is a reaction out of fear and out of fear of what the media has been portraying more so than what the facts are. But, we do have a responsibility to keep ourselves noncontagious for those people around us who do have compromised immune systems and who are elderly, specifically over the age of 65.”

Many were hoping to record a performance, even if there was no audience. However, gathering together to do so would violate district guidelines.

“I think it’s great that they are trying to minimize the crowd,” said Benjamin Sacco, a Woodside senior and the musical’s assistant stage manager. “I would have liked it if they would have let us do a run through and recorded it… so we would have something.”

Constantz agreed with Sacco and argued that a recording wouldn’t have been that detrimental to public health.

“I understand the ‘no performance in a giant room full of people closely packed for a long amount of time,'” said Constantz. “That’s totally understandable, [but] I really think that they should have at least let us do a recording.”

As for the future of the show, the cast members are hoping for a chance to perform later in the school year.

“We’d really like to have a performance in May,” Griffin said. “We’re hoping to do a show at some point, or get it filmed, or both, ideally.”

However, the future plans are currently unknown, and those who already purchased tickets are being refunded.

“People are missing out on a great performance,” said Constantz.

Leadership Activities

Leadership-run activities including the T-Pumps fundraiser, the blood drive, and school assemblies have been cancelled due to the coronavirus, and prom has been rescheduled from April 17 to May 17.

“I was planning a T-Pumps fundraiser to raise money for leadership,” said Woodside sophomore and leadership student Dina Fatolahi. “If we come back, I do plan on resuming [the fundraiser] as long as T-Pumps is open and school is open.”

Unfortunately, one of Woodside’s biggest events, the spring rally, was also canceled.

“It’s a community event where all the Woodside students come and watch the clubs perform,” explained Woodside sophomore and leadership student Laura Weppner, who was planning the rally. “Sadly, because of the coronavirus, it had to be canceled because that’s too many students in one area and we wanted to focus on everyone’s safety.”

Unlike other school events, the spring rally will not be rescheduled.

“So far, we are not planning [the spring rally]; it has been canceled,” said Weppner. “It’s pretty difficult to plan because it’s a Wildcat schedule that day, which means everything is shifted, like it’s in your planners. So, it’s going to be pretty difficult to move, so it’s just going to be canceled for this school year.”

Although disappointed, leadership is doing their best to prioritize student health.

“Right now, the leadership program, including BOSA, is focusing on keeping everyone at Woodside as safe as possible and yes, sadly, that means events have had to be cancelled and/or postponed as a result; however, we are hoping to find later dates for these events to take place on,” said Woodside BOSA vice president Colby Peck. “All of us would love to have these events occur, but as of right now, nothing is set in stone due to the uncharted nature of this situation. Leadership will look to find ways to help keep the spirit of Woodside positive.”

It remains uncertain whether school will resume after April 3, but leadership is prepared to adapt as necessary.

“In regards to the cancelled and postponed events, of course it is disappointing to see that the plans we have made and worked on for the past couple of months have been altered, but I don’t see it as having been for nothing,” said Peck. “We all hope to see some of, if not all of, these events occur at a later date. Things don’t always go the way we plan, but sometimes you’ve just got to take things one at a time and adjust and alter to the situation at hand which we are working on doing.”

Principal Diane Burbank empathized with students during her announcements broadcast last Thursday.

“Despite the cancellation of games, the musical, robotics, field trips, assemblies, I recognize your hard work, dedication, and time that you, your parents, and staff have put into planning these events,” said Burbank. “This unprecedented situation does not negate those efforts. I also understand your heartbreak and frustration and that this is so unfair.”

Student Activities Director Leslie With is determined to remain optimistic even in a negative situation. 

“This is just uncharted territory, but we need to keep our heads up and just try to stay positive,” With concluded.

Music Events

A+drum+set+sits+unattended+in+the+Woodside+jazz+band+room.

Cienna Cattaneo

A drum set sits unattended in the Woodside jazz band room.

Woodside is no longer participating in multiple music events due to district guidelines concerning the local spread of the novel coronavirus.

The announcement came just days before the district decided to transition to at home learning on Friday, and it was part of the first major series of cancellations to hit Woodside since the virus first reached San Mateo County on March 2. All “school assemblies, concerts, [and] performing arts events,” as well as field trips and long-distance travel, are no longer permitted to continue.

“We were going to have a spring concert,” Woodside sophomore and music student Brynn Adasiewicz described. “There was going to be a Music at the Park [event], and we were going to do a festival at Great America.” 

The Reno Jazz festival was also canceled on March 10, disappointing many jazz band students who were set to participate.

“It’s all very overwhelming, since we need to get back our deposits that we [put in] for our trip, and we need to give back the chocolates that we were supposed to sell to make this trip possible,” sophomore and music student Alejandra Hernandez said. “It’s just been a lot.”

While students who take music classes at Woodside usually attend music-specific events, they also often perform in campus events such as rallies, campus games, and theater productions. Some students, like sophomore Sophia Baca, were scheduled to provide the background music for the spring musical.

“At least for the [members of the] pit, it’s very disappointing,” Baca commented. “We worked really hard to meet our deadlines and were very disappointed when it wasn’t going to happen.”

Prior to the official cancellation email from Principal Burbank, Woodside music instructor Bill Tolles made an announcement to his class.

“Our teacher had a thirty-minute conversation with us about the possibility of the school being closed and also what was going to happen with the music program,” Adasiewicz recalled. “He basically just found out from the district [school board] meeting.” 

However, for some, the decision to regard the arts as “non-essential” was an outrage.

“We really like the department of music [at Woodside], and I feel like [district officials] really didn’t even hesitate in just shutting down everything [in the performing arts sector],” Hernandez proclaimed. “They kind of just said ‘Okay, we don’t really need this for now, [so let’s just] shut it down… You really could’ve put a little more thought into [making those decisions].”

Still, with other programs being postponed and school now transitioning to online learning, Hernandez believes the cancellations have become necessary.

“There [are] a lot of worried parents, and a lot of us are also a bit worried,” Hernandez observed. “I feel like with [school closing], we can just take a step back from everything that is going on in the world and really focus on ourselves, which is really going to help.”

Robotics

After nine full weeks of building their robot, Woodside’s robotics team—Team 100—will not be able to compete in regional and national championships due to the coronavirus.

Initially, the team planned to compete in the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) San Francisco regional competition from March 19 to 21 and the FIRST Lancaster regional competition from April 1 to 4. If they did well, they would travel to Houston for FIRST’s national championships.

Scoring in the competitions is based on how well robots are able to accomplish specific objectives; this year, teams had to design their robots to throw balls into a goal and hang from a bar.

“From the first Saturday in January until mid-February, you have a six-week build period, and then after that, you’d have to put your robot in a bag, and you couldn’t touch it anymore,” said team captain Peter Klopp. “This year, they removed that rule.”

Due to the change, building this year’s robot was a far greater time commitment that extended into March.

“The no bag rule had allowed us to be a lot more ambitious with the robot at the expense of basically endless build season, where we worked seven days a week,” said Klopp. “We’ve been here every day since January… It’s a 40-hour work week, basically.”

Parent volunteer Jay Verkler was impressed by the team’s efforts.

“[Peter’s] designed a very sophisticated robot,” praised Verkler. “It’s the best robot this team has ever built.”

Now, with both the San Francisco and Houston competitions canceled and Lancaster outside of the district-outlined travel boundaries, the robot will not have the opportunity to compete at a national level.

“We have a robot 99 percent physically done and 70 percent programmed, and we aren’t going to be able to take it to a competition,” lamented parent volunteer and assistant coach David Beaver.

Given all the hours they put into their robot, the team plans to finish it regardless of the lack of competitions to take it to.

“One of the exceptions in the official district policy is small groups after school,” explained Beaver. “Under the policy, we can keep working, as long as we meet in small groups.”

The transition to online school will complicate the process, especially as the team is unsure if they will have access to Woodside’s campus.

“We have packed essentials that we can take off campus,” Klopp said. “But, working using school resources, even if it’s done independently, is uncertain.”

After completing their robot, Team 100 plans to enter it in smaller, more recreational competitions such as the local Cal Games.

“Every year, we usually go to one or two off-season events, which are basically put on by the schools,” said Klopp. “They don’t qualify for any other events; they’re usually just for fun or for bragging rights.”

Verkler hopes that FIRST will plan future competitions with the same objectives so that Team 100 will have the opportunity to use their robot on a larger scale.

“There’s a lot of finished robots out there that want to compete, so I have to believe that there’s a market demand,” said Verkler.

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