The start of a new school year never looked so good as Raymond Temple Elementary School in Buena Park welcomed some exciting campus upgrades that will provide students news ways to learn and play the sport of hockey.
The school site was the recipient of the seventh Anaheim Ducks Power PLAY! Project, a makeover and beautification project that featured the installation of a permanent street hockey rink as well as painted murals, newly planted trees and a refurbishment of the school's garden.
More than 80 volunteers, including Orange Alliance members and Ducks staff, joined several corporate partners last week in bringing the playground upgrades to life. Ducks forward Devin Shore was also in attendance, painting murals and helping to put the finishing touches on the school's new rink.
Related story: Power Play! Project Transforms Raymond Temple Elementary
A ten-year partner school in the Ducks S.C.O.R.E. (Scholastic Curriculum of Recreation & Education) Program, Raymond Temple has a long-term relationship with the NHL club and has been an active participant in the S.C.O.R.E. Program's street hockey curriculum, First Flight Field Trip, Reading is the Goal and Captain's Challenge initiatives.
The street hockey rink is the 10th to be built by the Ducks and the Anaheim Ducks Foundation at Southern California schools and will serve as a place for the Raymond Temple Eagles to grow as athletes and scholars.
"It will provide a place for kids to choose a new and alternative activity," said Raymond Temple 3rd grade teacher and S.C.O.R.E. coordinator, Kris Wielenga. "For some who may struggle in class, they're a star on the rink. And those are some of my favorite moments - seeing a student who is growing as a scholar, but doesn't always see the successes that they want - but then they come to the rink and everyone is cheering for them."
The school's 500-member preschool through sixth grade student body, clad in orange t-shirts, gathered earlier this week along with teachers, staff, parents and Centralia Elementary School District representatives to unveil the makeover and dedicate the new rink. Anaheim Ducks radio play-by-play announcer Steve Carroll hosted the ceremony and was joined by Anaheim Ducks Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Aaron Teats in celebrating Raymond Temple's ongoing commitment to the S.C.O.R.E. Program.
"Our Power PLAY! Project signifies our appreciation of the dedication and community partnership that Raymond Temple has had with the Ducks for just about 10 years now," Teats said. "The growth of hockey in this district demonstrates the value in providing every student the opportunity to play what we think is the greatest sport on earth."
Fifth grade Raymond Temple students Daniela Rodriguez and Justin Singh both participated in the S.C.O.R.E. Street Hockey Program last year as fourth graders and are excited to see hockey made available to all ages and grades at their school.
"It's pretty cool because [hockey] is my favorite sport now," Daniela said. "Now all the grades can play it."
"It's exciting to have something new," Justin added. "And now maybe it won't just be for fourth grade. Maybe third grade or second grade can play [hockey] now. It's more of a chance for other grades to play."
Raymond Temple is home to approximately 30 deaf and hard of hearing students, as well as a few students who use a wheelchair, so it was vitally important to the school's principal, Dr. Estela Salas, that the student body's diversity be recognized and celebrated within the campus upgrades. Both the rink and parts of the garden were built to be wheelchair accessible, and several of the new murals include references to American Sign Language (ASL). Salas hopes the Power PLAY! Project will be a lifelong example to the students of the power of community and volunteerism.
"This, of course, gives opportunities to bring kids into a sport that they otherwise probably wouldn't have any exposure to, but I think more importantly is the idea that our kids are seeing what a community can do," Salas said. "This organization that is built upon being a powerhouse athletically gives just as much passion and commitment into the community-building aspect of their work. I've never worked with such an elite organization as the Anaheim Ducks. It really is an example of how you can pay it forward, and to me, that's the bigger lesson that I hope our kids are connecting and seeing."
As a long time fan of hockey and the Ducks, Wielenga became emotional as she thanked everyone who took part in making this dream a reality for her students and school. And Shore's participation made a new fan out of Wielenga, as the third grade teacher committed to wearing number 29 on her next Ducks jersey. With many games of hockey to be played in their future, the Eagles of Raymond Temple will never be the same. And that's a good thing.
"Thank you to the Anaheim Ducks Foundation and their many partners who provided the materials, people and expertise," Wielenga said. "Thank you to Henry and Susan Samueli and the Anaheim Ducks for supporting educators and students while sharing your love of the sport…Thanks to the Ducks, our students can soar and score together."
For more information on the Anaheim Ducks S.C.O.R.E. Program, visit ducksscore.com.