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SOAR In An Unusual School Year

In this unprecedented school year, Eastern Christian (EC) students have not seen the regular schedule they are accustomed to. One major piece is missing and that is SOAR (Student Opted Academic Resource), which is a time that students can use to further develop their interests and hobbies. For example, students can choose from a wide variety of activities including but not limited to EC’s music program, fly fishing, touch football, etc.

The lack of SOAR is a considerable change for many students. This is true for senior Stephen Frank and he was noted saying, “I really enjoyed SOAR these past years because it was a break from the rigid schedule of classes, and because you were able to choose what you wanted to do.” With the major changes to how school is being conducted, it could be difficult to put SOAR back into schedules in a safe manner. There are many individuals who want to bring SOAR back, but others believe it would be difficult to do so with the current restrictions in school buildings amidst a global pandemic.

This pandemic has required schools to have restrictions in interactions between people. Some of the restrictions include limited physical activity to reduce labored breathing, limited sharing of items, and maintaining a safe, social distance between students and staff. SOAR involves a lot of person to person contact by nature, so these restrictions would make it difficult to put it back into students’ schedules. Most people do not know how difficult the new safety restrictions are to work around with the exception of EC teacher Tim Steen, who has hosted many SOAR activities in past years. In an email from him he stated that, “Unfortunately, with the pandemic, music classes do not seem feasible. That is one reason it is difficult to find time for SOAR. Another difficulty is that we do want to limit students' exposure to each other, so each time we change groups, we increase that exposure. So I don't know when we should meet in SOAR” It might be hard to bring SOAR back to the schedules of EC students, but Eric Lee believes that “Any SOARs that do not require to provide material for students could work. For example, rubix cube for those who own one. Students could all get on one Google Meet and be "present" and solve rubix cube or ask Mr. Z for help.” Stephen Frank is not as sure, stating, “I am not entirely sure how SOAR would be brought back with the current circumstances.”

Another issue for bringing back SOAR is how remote students could be involved. Eric who is a remote student thinks that virtual students could get involved in an “Online- Google Meet” Stephen gave a description of what he thinks stating, “ I feel that there could be certain SOAR’s focused on online students, or others that focus on integrating both in school and remote students to produce a more conducive and productive time for them.”

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