By Andy Jacklin
School is back in session and the hockey season is underway, meaning it is once again time for the "We're All Islanders" School Assembly Program, presented by Supercuts, National Grid and the Lighthouse on Long Island, to head out to schools all across Long Island. The program was designed to teach children about the importance of teamwork and how a students, teachers, and staff at a school can work together to accomplish goals––big and small.
Last year, in the program's first year, the "We're All Islanders" program visited 32 different schools and reached more than 25,000 students. This year, the program has expanded to 48 different schools and will see more than 40,000 students. Last Monday marked the first assembly of the school year.
In the first week, three schools were visited with more than 2,100 children in attendance. The first school was Boyle Road Elementary in Port Jefferson Station. On hand to teach the children the importance of teamwork were Islanders alumnus and fan favorite Eric Cairns, arena hostess Dina and everyone's favorite mascot, Sparky the Dragon.
On Tuesday, the program stopped at Tackan Elementary in Nesconset, and on Wednesday the group headed all the way out east to Rocky Point to visit the children of Joseph A. Edgar Elementary School.
At each assembly, Cairns and Dina spoke to the children about what they do for the Islanders and how––despite working separately––they still belong to the same team and need to cooperate and work together to help make the organization run smoothly.
"The students are great," explained Dina, who is new to the program this year. "They are full of energy and are excited to see us. It's great to be able to send them such a strong message and really have them grasp the concept, but to do it in such a fun way."
The assembly includes a video of the current Islanders relaying the message that good teammates listen to each other, help one another and cooperate to help accomplish a goal. After the video, three students are brought onto a stage to work together as a team to dress one of their teammates in full goalie gear, while they race against a teacher working alone. By the end of the race, it is clear to the students that three heads are better than one and that working together makes accomplishing any task easier.
"I really enjoy coming to the schools," said Cairns, who also helped with the program last year. "It is important for these kids to learn about something as valuable as the concept of a team and how their school is similar to the Islanders organization. The kids ask some really great questions and really are excited. They make me feel like I'm back on the ice during a sold-out crowd when they start cheering."
The assembly concludes with a loud "Let's Go Islanders" chant that can be heard throughout the school. The children also receive an Islanders gift bag, which includes a ticket voucher for an upcoming Islanders game. The school also receives a free set of floor hockey equipment to allow the kids to continue to enjoy hockey even after the Islanders depart.
"There is no program like this," said Dina. "The Islanders are really dedicated to going into the community to spread a powerful message and growing the game of hockey. "It's a lot of fun to be a part of something this special."Watch an IslandersTV
video of Reading Week at Camp Avenue Elementary School with Bruno Gervais.