The Bear Facts
August 29, 2020

Good morning! I’m Jack Snyder!

I’m Meredith Tigges!

And I’m Joseph Trainer! Welcome back to the “Bear Facts”, where we’re starting a new school year here at Bishop Garrigan High School.

It’s been a long time since the “Bear Facts” has been on the radio. Our last show aired March 14, and we bragged about both the Golden Bear girls and boys doing well at state basketball. State speech was supposed to be that weekend, and a group of Garrigan music students was supposed to leave on a trip to New York City.

We recorded that show on a Thursday, and almost immediately afterwards things started changing rapidly because of the coronavirus. The next day our boys basketball team played in the state championship game, but only 100 fans were allowed in the arena to watch. The Bears were the state runners-up, and Angelo Winkel was named captain of the all-tournament team. While most of us didn’t get to see the game in person, we’re excited the Bears got to play, since almost every state except Iowa cancelled their basketball playoffs.

Another event we were pleased to get in last March was the spring play. Runaways was postponed because of state basketball, but it ended up being the last school event that happened before the shutdown. Everyone who attended agreed that it was a well-performed and powerful show.

State speech contest was cancelled, which means Garrigan’s fourteen competitors will never know how they’d have done. The music trip was also cancelled due to COVID-19. That was probably a good thing, since right after that decision was made almost all the attractions in New York were closed and tourists were discouraged from traveling there.

There were a lot of schools that completely shut down last spring, but Garrigan wasn’t one of them. Our building was closed, but classes kept on going. We were one of just a handful of schools in Iowa where online instruction was required for all students. The teachers will tell you they worked harder than they ever had in their life. It was anything but a vacation. In the end everyone finished their classes and got full credit and normal letter grades. We’re glad of that, because it should make things easier when we go off to college.

Right after online classes finished up, six members of the quiz bowl team competed in the National Academic Championships. Their original plan was to head to New Orleans for nationals, but because of the shutdown this ended up being an online tournament. Garrigan made a decent showing. They beat a team from New York and also played teams from Virginia, Vermont, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Minnesota.

Abbi Heying was the Bears’ captain in the national tournament. The team also included Aric Laubenthal, Reese Rosenmeyer, Joe Trainer, Meredith Tigges, and recent graduate Grant Bormann. This was the 21st appearance at nationals for Coach David Burrow and the Bears.

COVID-19 led to a lot of other changes as well. Both prom and graduation were postponed until June. Prom ended up being an outdoor event, with the Grand March held on the new track. Graduation was held in the new gym, but only seniors and their parents were allowed to attend. Seniors held their graduation parties all summer long, with many of them taking place outside.

All the spring sports were cancelled, and so were the spring music contests. The local churches held masses online throughout the spring. Even after the buildings were re-opened the number of people allowed inside was severely limited, and everyone was required to wear a mask. Those restrictions will continue with our school masses this fall.

Baseball and softball did happen, though their seasons were about half the usual length. The Golden Bear softball team did especially well, winning the conference championship. Both the baseball and softball teams won their playoff openers, but unfortunately they fell before making it to state.

While we’re back in the school building this fall, with the coronavirus still spreading, there’s a lot of things that are different. We all have our temperatures taken when we come in the door to make sure no one has a fever. Then everyone is supposed to go straight to their first class instead of hanging around the hallway. Desks are spread out in every class, and at lunch we use both the cafeteria and the old gym to make sure there’s good space for everyone.

There’s plastic barriers in the offices, and you’ll see hand sanitizer pretty much everywhere in the building. Desks and other furniture is sanitized frequently, and band and choir have been moved to locations where students can be further apart. There are also plans in place for how to proceed with classes if anyone does get sick.

On the first day of school the seniors selected the royal court for this year’s Homecoming celebration. This year’s king candidates are Mitch Buscherfed, Kale Kramer, Joe Merron, Kellen Murphy, and Joey Trainer. The queen candidates are Ava Bartolo, Anna Berke, Kiana Book, Gracie Elsbecker, and Gracie Rosenmeyer. Homecoming will be September 14 – 18.

Because of all the news we had to catch up on, we’re going to wait a week before starting our Senior Spotlight for this year. On our first Golden Bear calendar of the year, today the volleyball team is hosting what was originally supposed to be the St. Ed’s tournament. The games will be here at Garrigan throughout the day.

Monday the cross-country team runs in the Newman tournament at the west campus of North Iowa Mercy Hospital in Mason City. There’s also JV football that night, with the Bears playing at Garner.

Thursday the volleyball team plays at Lake Mills. Then Friday we’ll have the kick-off for the annual calendar drive. That night the football team has their first home game of the season, as the Bears welcome Mason City Newman.

That’s our first “Bear Facts” show of this new school year. We’re glad to be back, and we thank you for joining us. Be sure to catch the show every Saturday throughout the year to hear all the news from Bishop Garrigan High School.