Friday, May 12, 2023
Hockey skills program expands to more NNDSB schools
Near North District School Board’s (NNDSB) popular Hockey Canada Skills Academy program is expanding again. The program, which was initially launched at Parry Sound High School, is now hitting the ice at Almaguin Highlands Secondary School (AHSS) and F.J. McElligott Secondary School.
Students in the hockey skills program earn high school credits while honing their hockey skills on and off the ice. The goal of the sessions is to develop individual hockey skills and knowledge and encourage healthy living habits and team building.
“Almaguin Highlands Secondary School is absolutely thrilled to be launching an innovative new Hockey Canada Skills Academy program this September that combines academics and athletics,” AHSS Principal Heather Hickey said. “We have had 35 students interested in the program and they will earn two physical education credits. The co-ed program is a partnership between the school board, Almaguin Minor Hockey and Hockey Canada. It is open to all Grade 9, 10, 11 and 12 students.
“It’s a great program to get students excited about coming to school. Learning goes beyond shooting, passing and skating, as students learn important skills related to teamwork and communicating with one another,” Hickey said. “Our on-ice instructors have a wealth of experience in skills development and the teachers involved with the program have demonstrated a clear commitment to scholastic achievement.”
F.J. McElligott physical education teacher and hockey skills academy lead instructor Cody Lacelle said, “experiential learning opportunities like this are very important. They provide students who have different learning styles an equal opportunity to show their understanding. Students struggle with learning concepts that don’t pertain to real-world experiences. As the student interacts with the experience, it becomes real to them and easy for them to understand whatever concepts they may be dealing with. This program offers numerous ‘untraditional learning’ opportunities. It allows students to learn outside of the typical four-wall classroom.”
Lacelle explains that the goal is not to create NHL calibre hockey players but to provide an experiential learning experience to students who may not have had the opportunity to try the sport. To that end, F.J. McElligott has three full sets of equipment to remove any barriers for students who may want to participate.
“It is my goal that students are able to build numerous on-ice skills that they can take off the ice and use in their everyday lives. These skills include communication skills, leadership skills, teamwork skills and many other valuable life skills,” Lacelle said.
Enthusiasm for the program is high both in the school and the greater Mattawa community. Lacelle says the enrolment in the class is roughly equivalent to 25 per cent of the school population and there are plans to expand the class offerings by securing more community partnerships in the years to come.
Almaguin is also developing community partnerships. AHSS sports coordinator Trevor Hingley said the school is grateful to have the support of the community and the South River-Machar Arena and the Sundridge Strong Joly Arena.
“The academy is a great opportunity to partner with a local community organization and support our students in developing both hockey and life skills,” Hingley said. “We are currently working on building a connection to community members who would make great guest coaches throughout the program.
“Regardless of their skill level and ability, we’re committed to ensuring that each and every student enrolled in this program will improve both academically and athletically,” Hingley said.