Cougar virtual talent show a roaring success

This year’s Talent Show was unlike any other. On December 4th, a video was posted to Youtube by user Kaiser Cougar titled “Kaiser High School Winter Assembly 2020.” In the video was Kaiser High School’s first-ever virtual assembly, including the first-ever virtual talent show. Hosting the event presented issues for participants, organizers, and even the audience, but in the end, the Talent Show succeeded in reaching the student body. Because of the year’s unusual circumstances, though, the actual preparation and execution were very different.

 It was important to host a talent show to promote “school spirit throughout the year,” student body president Kayla Lum (12) said. Pandemic restrictions limited opportunities for performance art, and the artists themselves suffered for it. For guitarist Dylan Sukhabut (11), “performing is the only thing keeping me sane, because without performing, there’s no need for me to practice,” he said. With that in mind, a virtual assembly and talent show began to take shape.

This was everyone’s first time organizing a virtual assembly, so planners had to discover alternative ideas and “didn’t really have anything to go off of,” Lum said, who wrote scripts and talent show committee agendas. It was eventually decided to assemble a pre-filmed video, which would also be “the smoothest way to run it versus live streaming it off of WebEx,” she said. Although not an ideal solution, the video was a safe alternative to an in-person event.

The next challenge for the organizers was recording acts. Every participant was in a different situation at home because of COVID-19, so Lum and the other student body leadership members had to “coordinate with everyone when they can actually…film themselves,” she said. While some performers could go into school to record, others had to arrange special camera setups to film from home. Group presentations were even more difficult, as “it [was] just more of a hassle to all meet,” Lum said. 

For the participants themselves, pre-recording felt strange. Although it was less nerve-wracking, as cuts made in editing could hide their mistakes, the lack of an audience “took away a bit of the fun of performing,” Sukhabut said. For these artists, “it’s better to have people’s live reaction, rather than just watch a video,” pianist Terence Kuan (11) said. Nonetheless, the participants still wanted to take part in the exhibition, and submissions kept coming in.

After receiving all of the footage, there was one final step. Lum and the rest of the planning committee were faced with another arduous task: editing and compiling everything into a single feature. It was important to have a well-edited, engaging video, one that “could keep [students] at their computers,” Lum said. For the leadership students, the whole process was unfamiliar and stressful at times, but the finished product was worth the effort. Once the video was released, the organizers and performers alike received congratulations from friends online.

The virtual assembly enabled the talent show while protecting everyone’s safety. In the end, this year’s talent show might not have been ideal, but in tough times, every opportunity to do what you love needs to be taken.

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