It’s not every day that the Blue Jackets show up to your school to reward you for perfect attendance, but that’s what happened to 22 kids at Avondale Elementary School last night.
Colton Gillies, Dalton Prout, assistant coach Dan Hinote, along with members of the Blue Jackets Foundation served dinner, signed posters, and played street hockey with the kids to honor them for going to school every day for an entire nine-week period.
“They deserved to be rewarded – they went to school consecutively every day, and that’s a hard thing to do,” said Gillies, who likes participating in community events because he can remember getting special attention from some of his favorite NHL heroes as a kid.
“I can still remember those moments, and they’re very special moments for me, and I just hope I can give those back,” he said.
According to April Knight, the principal of Avondale Elementary School, this was the first time they held a special dinner for the kids and their families to honor perfect attendance. It was also her idea to get the Blue Jackets involved.
“It makes the families feel really special, so it has been a really positive thing,” Knight said. “They absolutely love it because they don’t have those experiences.”
CHECK OUT THE PHOTO GALLERY FROM COLTON AND DALTON'S VISIT TO AVONDALE ELEMENTARY!
It certainly was special for sisters Morgan Lones, 10, and Alissa Lones, 9. The two girls love to learn, especially anything that has to do with math. Yet, equations and multiplication tables were far from their minds as they enjoyed a free dinner and autographs from Gillies and Prout.
Morgan said school is important to her so she can learn, but she also wants to have perfect attendance again so she can "get more stuff from the Blue Jackets."
After dinner and a round of autographs, the kids moved into the gym to play a little street hockey with the NHL stars.
“A couple of them were a little shy at first, but once they picked up the stick and went out there – they were playing like Jared Boll out there,” Gillies said.
If Gillies thought the kids were tough, he had no idea that his biggest blow would come from his own teammate. At one point, Prout lifted a ball that soared through the air… and right into Gillies’ forehead.
“That was a real good time,” Gillies said with a hint of subtle sarcasm. “I was wondering what all the kids were looking at, and then the ball just smoked me right in the face.”
“I was playing goalie, but I still wanted a chance to score a goal,” he said, laughing.
Still, Prout said his favorite part of the night was being able to put smiles on the kids’ faces.
“Any time you can make a kid’s day, it makes your day.”