It has now been one year since the start of our literal March madness (i.e. school closure), and as we reflect on pre-pandemic school life, it is hard to imagine a time when the force of the “vortex” was in full strength, when school dragged on for an unmanageable seven hours, and when our eyes were not stinging due to long hours in front of a computer screen. While it seems that everything has changed so radically since then, teachers have worked to bring a sense of familiarity back into the classroom by modifying annual events that students had looked forward to in years past. Two examples of this include the French department’s Manie Musicale de Mars and the biology department’s March Mammal Madness.
Both events are based off of the NCAA basketball tournament taking place throughout March. Manie Musicale, headed by two French teachers from Maine, is a competition between sixteen French songs which students from 950 schools internationally vote on. This year’s selection consists of positively-themed songs in light of the current global crisis. One of the greatest aspects of the event is that students can easily participate virtually. Rather than writing down their selections on a physical copy of the bracket, students fill out their choices on a Google Drawing and submit their brackets to their teachers through Google Forms. Although teachers have experienced complications with the sound quality of music videos when playing them over Google Meet, this problem was quickly remedied by having virtual students listen to the songs and make their selections on their own. Based on a survey of a sample of student voters, the Chronicle’s predicted winner for this year’s bracket is artist Ichon’s upbeat “La Vie.” Manie Musicale is not only a competition between French songs, but also French students. If a student chooses a song that wins a greater number of votes than its competitor in their personal bracket, they can earn a certain number of points. This number increases as the round number increases. A student can earn one point per song that wins against its contender in the first round, three points per song in the second round, five points per song in the third round, and eight points if they choose the correct champion. The student with the greatest number of total points will win a mystery prize to be determined.
March Mammal Madness (MMM), like Manie Musicale de Mars, is a widespread event that connects CHS students to their peers around the country. With MMM, scientists use data to predict which species would win in battles against each other, regardless of how ridiculous and impractical the match-ups may be. In order to determine the winner, scientists consider the physical advantages and weaknesses, adaptations, and behaviors of each species as well as the timing of the battles and ecologies they take place in. In order to guarantee the best results, many students are also taking the time to research all sixty-four animals competing. Others will simply use their prior knowledge and common sense to make educated guesses of which species will win in each round. Students with the most accurate brackets in their respective classes will earn extra credit, and the overall winner across all classes will win a trophy meticulously handcrafted by biology teacher Ms. Baumle. Students are also able to earn extra credit easily by “scouting” an animal—in other words, researching their assigned animal’s habitat, strengths, and weaknesses and presenting their findings on a shared powerpoint.
Despite slight modifications to the tournaments made to accommodate virtual instruction, most students are glad to be able to see the continuation of their favorite long-standing classroom traditions. In a time where nothing seems to be the same, one student remarks, events such as these offer a refreshing but poignant reminder of the old ordinary life.