COAR, like most schools today, realizes the importance of promoting healthy physical exercise, as well as, traditional academia. What have great minds said about exercise? President JFK said “Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity”. President Thomas Jefferson said regarding exericse “Leave all the afternoon for exercise and recreation for they are as necessary as reading”. But, Mark Twain had his own ideas on the topic: “I am pushing 60 years old. That is enough exercise for me”.
COAR has both intramural sports and a Sports & Recreation workshop. The Sports and Recreation workshops meet every Wednesday and Friday from 10am until 12 noon. These workshops allow the kids to truly enjoy the ‘fun’ of sports and exercise without as much focus on competition. Also, these workshops allow the kids to enjoy many different sports and activities beyond soccer. Traditionally, the intramural programs meet in the afternoons and generate a higher level of competition. COAR has both boys’ and girls’ teams. Although temperatures in the dry season may reach 95 degrees with full sun, you can count on COAR kids playing their heart out in soccer with a healthy cheering section from the sidelines.
The most common sports in El Salvador are soccer and basketball. Whenever the national Salvadoran soccer team plays in San Salvador, the stadium is packed. During the World Cup, everyone follows their favorite teams. Local shopping malls temporarily hang gigantic projection screens which draw shoppers into the mall – although most people sit and enjoy the game without spending their hard earned dollars. Without any doubt, soccer is the national sport. During the 2015 US Basketball Finals, a group of seminarians and myself had no problem finding the game televised at local bars and restaurants. While it does not have the following that soccer has, everyone that we came across did know the name “Lebron James”.
Each May 1st, COAR holds its Intramural day. This is a truly special day because it allows all of the kids to compete in pure athletic competition, music, parades and fun. Each class (elementary/middle/high school) competes against a fellow class. Our COAR kids often write to their sponsors following the competition bragging about their hard-earned-goal. It is often the girls who are most excited about their chance to compete on this special day. Classes are canceled; the school’s band and cheer leaders perform and it is a day of pure athleticism and fun.
Academia, job skill preparation and Catholic spirituality are clearly the 3 pillars supporting COAR’s school. But, 36% of the Salvadoran population lives below the poverty line. There are now more than 30 murders per day in El Salvador – making it the murder capital of the world (among non-war countries) culminating in a terrible statistic: on August 23rd, 2015, there were 52 murders in just 1 day.
Amid this horrendous violence and social instability, COAR’s School works tirelessly to create a safe place for kids to learn, grow, mature, laugh and play. Academia will always be at the center of any school but for COAR’s administrators, it is equally important that we offer specific job preparation skills, vocational skills, and athletics for a healthy mind/body. We want the non-residential kids to remain at COAR before or after their classes, active and healthy, pursuing their extra curricular and vocational interests and most importantly – staying safe from gangs and engaged intellectually in a healthy and positive academic setting.