Play Works is a program, offered to third and fourth grade students, which creates a fun learning environment by incorporating school lessons with sports.
Wheeler and Ms. Meaghan Concannon, a teacher at the elementary school, challenged her third and fourth grade students with math problems using “greater-than” or “less-than” symbols and Boston Bruins hockey jersey numbers.
The first problem presented to the students was Matt Hunwick’s #48 versus Wheeler’s #26: the children had to explain to Wheeler which number was bigger and which direction the greater than and less than symbol had to point (i.e. 48 > 26).
The day was important to Blake, who attended the University of Minnesota, where he studied economics.
“I was a good student growing up,” the Bruins forward. “But I actually worked pretty hard at it.”
Wheeler added that it was important to balance the demands of both school and sports.
“I was told at a young age that you are a student athlete, that’s what you are, and the student always comes first,” he said.
“It’s one thing to be talented athletically,” continued Wheeler. “[But] you can only ride that so far, and you have to be well rounded to give yourself a good chance of succeeding in other areas of life.
“Someday you won’t be able to play sports all the time and you have to be well rounded so that you can peruse other endeavors when that time comes.”
Assistant Principle Edward Puliafico also attended the after school event and talked about the students’ excitement while anticipating Wheeler’s arrival.
“It means the world to these kids to have a living hero like Blake Wheeler come to their school,” said Puliafico. “It’s awesome for them and for some kids this will be the closest they will ever get to meet their hero.
“It really means the world to them.”
“The program has a lot of boys in it and having sports integrated into the learning portion of the classroom really helps to motivate them and gets them involved,” continued Puliafico. “This is a great new tool for students and we see their passion for learning through these different approaches of learning.”
Academics and sports are big part of growing up and Ms. Concannon was happy she could instill the importance of school in her students.
“I think it’s great that a sports figure like Blake Wheeler could come out here today for the kids to relate with them as a real person and connect with them on an academic level,” she commented.
To this day, Wheeler remains passionate about education and although he didn’t finish his college degree, he plans on returning to school some day in order to earn his diploma.
As such, the young forward was more than happy to attend the event and promote mathematics.
“When I left school I said 100 percent, yes -- definitely down the road it is something I am going to do because when the time comes and you can’t play hockey anymore it’s nice to have something to back you up,” said Wheeler.
“College was the time of my life,” he added. “I met a lot of great people and formed really important relationships. It was everything it was supposed to be for me. It was great.”
At the end of the after school program the kids engaged in a question and answer session with Wheeler. He also signed some of the students’ gifts they received from the Bruins.
“This was great for the kids today because it gave them a local role model to follow and to relate to,” said Puliafico of the day and pointing to the children’s clear enthusiasm for Blake’s visit – a visit highlighted by the #26 chant the children sounded as Wheeler walked through the gymnasium doors.
“It was truly a special moment for the kids,” said one parent who watched the scene.The Bruins I.C.E. School, presented by AT&T, serves to provide Kindergarten through 6th Grade teachers and students with curriculum materials that incorporate hockey and the Bruins into lesson plans that fall within Massachusetts' framework guidelines. For more information on I.C.E. School and click here.