When it comes to being physically fit only 12 percent of the students at the Cooperative High School get a passing grade.
New Haven’s high schools had widely different scores in the state’s 2011 physical fitness test—- with an average of 37.5 percent passing the test district wide, according to state Department of Education data. Students at James Hillhouse High School had the highest rate – 57 percent. The statewide average: 51 percent.
Fallon Daniels, Co-op’s administrative intern and a former science teacher at the school, acknowledged that the focus of the school is not on physical education.
“The students are coming here for just the arts…they have passion for the arts primarily,” she said.
Many of New Haven’s high schools are magnet schools with a particular focus a subject such as health, science, technology, among others.
A Co-op student, Angel Estrada, agrees that the school focuses heavily on the arts but would like to see more sports offered.
“It would be good for the people that are bored all day,” he said.
Built in 2008, the Co-op is an arts-focused school, with a dance studio that looks out on College and Crown Streets, auditoriums, computer labs, and rooms to showcase students’ artwork. There is a gym, the size of a basketball court. The school sits on a city block in downtown New Haven and had no outside fields for sports.
Co-op realizes an “important part of academics is being healthy,” Daniels said.
This is why “Co-op offers intramural sports after school,” said Daniels, such as yoga and basketball.
At Co-op, students are required to take gym is before graduating. Daniels said that physical stamina “starts in younger grades before high school.”
“The primary passion and focus and the drive is behind the arts,” she said. If a student was enthusiastic about sports, “they would generally go play for their district’s [sports] team.”
Estrada, who is interested in martial arts, signed-up for a program at a local business.
“I think that sports [are] necessary to keep everyone physically fit,” he said.
When asked how Co-op might improve its physical fitness scores, Daniels said, “I think having a conversation with the students and figure out what they expect from their gym classes.”
Daniels added, “In the past, we have tried to get an intramural volleyball team but not enough girls were interested.”
Co-op students interested in playing team sports can tryout for teams at the city’s two largest high schools: Wilbur Cross and Hillhouse.
Here are the scores for some of the high schools: New Haven Academy, 45.5 percent; Hill Regional Career High School, 38.5; Metropolitan Business Academy, 38.1; Wilbur Cross, 34.8.
Zanira Abubakar is a senior at the Cooperative Arts And Humanities High School, New Haven.