The Santoni Olimpiadas are starting soon, profes! Are you coming?,” the students excitedly asked us at the start of a Tuesday class. The Olimpiadas is a school-wide event we just learned of in which primary and secondary school students compete in a number of team sports like soccer, basketball, volleyball, track, and even chess. It’s held from in the second half of April. Unlike the United States where students compete on sports teams year round, this is a once-a-year opportunity for many Santoni students to use their talent and compete among their peers. A small group of Santoni students and teachers arrived to the neighborhood court toward the end of class to set up for the big event and the school’s director (principal) even came to personally invite us to join them Wednesday morning for the inaugural event.
The Independencia court was bustling with energy and school spirit when we arrived the next morning. Students proudly sported their blue and white uniforms and some even have their faces painted. This pep rally followed the Olympic model and began the with a parade of flags representing different nationalities of citizens in Peru – Peruvians, Chileans, Japanese, Ecuadorians, among others. The national anthem was played by a visiting marching band, a prayer was said by the neighborhood priest, and the Olympic torch was lit in classic Peruvian style – small fireworks! After all the students and teachers processed in front of the “VIP box,” a tent where we sat along with the director, everyone enjoyed an exposé by the national police and their K-9 squad. The final performance was by the 6th graders of the secondary school (equivalent of seniors in high school) welcoming the youngest students to the school with a dance and the gifting of t-shirts. It was great to witness this schools pride and we hope to send another update as we cheer our students on in their events. Take a look at all the photos on our Flickr page.