ROCHESTER — If you’ve ever watched race horses awaiting the starting bell in the gate, you might have a sense of what it’s like to watch dozens of first- and second-graders sitting in folding chairs getting ready to skate.
On the morning of Feb. 16, the gymnasium at Corpus Christi School at Blessed Sacrament Parish echoed with the excited voices of children hoping to hear John D. Moffitt of Be-Mar Associates Roller Skating give the word.
“We just try to let them have fun, but keep things in order,” Moffitt said when asked how he approaches leading children through a skate party.
Even louder than the children’s voices was the sound of their skates clicking against the gym floor. At long last, Moffitt gave the word, and the students were allowed to take to the floor, where most of them promptly fell.
The students then rose like insects trapped in honey, struggling to break free of their gooey chains. Slowly, they picked themselves up to skate again — and then fell. It took several moments, possibly minutes, before all of the students had successfully circled the gym floor without once surrendering to the irresistible allure of gravity.
After several minutes of skating, Azel Roberts, a second-grader, took a break and said, “I laughed at myself every time I fell.” She added that she laughed a lot.
Sister Eileen Daly, SSJ, principal of Corpus, said the school has held a roller-skating party around or during Catholic Schools Week every year since 1990. The students at the school skate in shifts, she noted, adding that the older ones often teach the younger ones how to skate. Helping others, enjoying one another’s company, finding “balance” in one’s life — these are the Catholic values of skating, she said with a smile.
The Catholic Courier decided not to question what was exactly Catholic about pointing and laughing at your friend when she slams into a folding chair because she just lost her balance. But if your friend lost her balance while skating, Elizabeth Kolis, a sophomore at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, might be there to help her up, just as she did Serenity Williams, a preschooler. Kolis helped Serenity skate by using one skate and one shoe, which Serenity noted was easier than skating with two skates.
Kolis said she volunteers at Corpus twice a week to fulfill the requirements of a service scholarship that pays about one-third of her tuition at Fisher, as well as her room and board. Kolis, who aspires to teach someday, said she’s glad she chose Corpus as her volunteer site.
“The atmosphere is so friendly, and everyone is so welcoming, and the kids are great,” she said.
Her little friend, Serenity, also agreed to be interviewed, although she decided against using words, or talking directly to a reporter. Serenity simply nodded yes to everything Kolis asked of her.
“Are you excited to roller skate?” “Yes,” Serenity nodded.
“Are you excited because it’s boring?” “Yes” Serenity nodded.
Serenity was apparently most excited when the interview ended, and it was time for an all-girls skate anyway.
Other students, however, were more than happy to use actual words in their answers. For example, Thomas Rivers, a sixth-grader, who was helping a 4-year-old skate, said he enjoyed helping the younger students. However, he wiped sweat from his brow and added that “the little kid’s heavy.”
Lawrence King, who noted he is a boxer as well as a sixth-grader, also said he enjoyed helping the little ones.
“They didn’t fall, and when they did, they had fun falling, and then they got back up and tried again,” Lawrence said.
Christian Rivera and Jade Hlywa, both in the sixth grade, said that they liked to skate to feel the “wind” in their faces. Their classmate, Fidel Torres, added that the little boy he helped to skate was a bit of a challenge.
“He was wearing an orange sweater, and he was running over my feet, and he was elbowing me,” Fidel said.
Kristi Rood, the school’s social worker, said the best part about the annual skating party is seeing how the older children help the younger ones.
“They know that we’re going to count on them, and they always come through,” she said of the older students.