The program's first season—in 2007-08—visited 32 schools, including more than 18,000 students in Nassau and Suffolk County. In its second season, the program increased its coverage, expanding to 55 schools, including 31,730 students. The program also expanded to nine schools in Queens, which included 6,800 students.
"I think that it's great that the Islanders are reaching out to children in the area," said P.S. 84 principal John Buffa. "It's wonderful what they did at our school."
The assembly includes videos, featuring highlights of the Islanders in action and IslandersTV "Skates and Smarts," hosted by Head Coach Scott Gordon. Gordon, along with some of his players, uses a classroom setting to describe the necessary ingredients to achieving teamwork. Islanders Arena Hostess Dina, who serves as the host of the Assembly Program—along with mascot Sparky the Dragon—uses interactive demonstrations to show how teamwork breeds success.
"I'm going to miss the kids," said Dina, now that this season's program has come to an end. "Some weren't huge hockey fans to begin with, but by the end they were chanting ‘Let's Go Islanders.' I think the School Assembly Program is one of the best community programs that the Islanders do. It's a great grassroots program. A lot of students are going to grow up and come to an Islanders came and remember when the Islanders came to their school because it put such a positive impression in their minds."
The program also provides two street hockey nets, two sets of sticks and five street hockey balls to each of the school's physical education departments. In addition, approximately 60,000 free ticket vouchers were distributed to the students for a 2008-09 Islanders game.
In just two years, 81 local schools have had the "We're All Islanders" Assembly Program pay a visit. Expect that number to reach well over 100 in year three.
Look out for information on newyorkislanders.com in May about signing up your school for the new Islanders "@ School" Program.