Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
January 29, 2001
School to combine hockey, academics
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — A new program for Grade 4 to 9 students at St. Edmund School will combine academics and athletics without compromising one or the other.
"Kids can go to school and play hockey at the same time," said principal Larry Rankin of the school's new hockey program.
Eric Morrissette added, "You can still stress your academics and still support athletics."
Morrissette is the coordinator of the hockey program at St. Edmund's which begins September 2001.
Students enrolled in the program will spend the morning in class and the afternoons on the rink. But the program isn't just about playing hockey. "It's development of the whole person," Rankin said. "The idea is not to make them NHL players. The idea is to make them a whole person."
Rankin sees the hockey program as one which follows the tradition of "sound body, sound mind."
"It's a holistic program."
Rankin said the program was not a hard sell to the school board, nor was it something parents were shaking their heads at.
In fact, the program was only announced the second week of January and more than 20 students have signed up. The school is also an ideal location for the program because it is near a public hockey rink.
Morrissette has been involved with the program at another Edmonton school and has seen first hand the positive effects it has had on students.
St. Edmund's is the first Catholic school in the city to implement the hockey program. Of the students in the program, Morrissette estimated that at least 90 per cent of them maintained or improved their school marks.
But he admits there are hesitations from parents who are wary about a program that splits school hours between the classroom and ice rink.
"It's a matter of creatively working out our timetable," Rankin said. "The students have to meet the curriculum requirements. To stay in the program, you have to keep your marks up."
The program is geared towards male and female students who play hockey at any level.
"It's not hockey everyday," Morrissette said. There's character development, leadership skills, health and nutritional information.
"They're very active in this program, they have to learn to eat properly. In terms of leadership, we've done things like public speaking - it's a very well-rounded program."
Morrissette has been playing hockey for more than two decades and has coached teams on a variety of levels, including college and midget AAA.
He remembers as a young boy growing up in a rural community and travelling long distances to hockey games.
When the toll of travelling to the games hit him, Morrissette said the only option was to quit hockey, not school. But quitting hockey doesn't have to be an option in a program like this, Morrissette said.
"In this situation, (hockey and academics) are cooperating and they're cooperating to meet the needs of the students."
Rankin added, "It certainly has breathed life into the school. The teachers are very excited about it."
For more information about the program, contact Eric Morrissette at 453-1596.
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