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As the Inner City High students began filing into the gym for their annual Oilers luncheon, the smiles on their faces were contagious as they saw a special guest had returned. It’s become an annual tradition for the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (EOCF) to host this special event, and although the students leave with full bellies, it’s become more about bringing Christmas cheer and hope into the lives of these high-risk young adults.
The familiar face who returned is a recent graduate and the first recipient of the EOCF’s Inner City High scholarship, Cynthia, spoke to the students about her experiences which led her to study at MacEwan University. It was a homecoming for Cynthia who toured the school running into many former teachers and classmates who are continuing their studies. Her fellow students were happy to welcome a familiar face and gave Cynthia a whooping round of applause as she took to the podium.
“The building looks so much better; seeing all the renovations, seeing the new faces are great,” said Cynthia.
The Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation has been involved with Inner City High for many years since selecting it as their Legacy Project. The EOCF purchased and recently finished renovations to the facility creating a customized learning environment.
Having benefitted from her time at Inner City High and graduated to continue her studies at the post-secondary level, Cynthia is an advocate for the school and its tremendous resources.
“You couldn’t find a better support system, the teachers are there for you,” said Cynthia. “The Edmonton Oilers Foundation has done so much; everything that’s here, they’ve given to (us).”
Joining Cynthia at the podium was Oilers Head Coach Ralph Krueger who spoke to the students. Ralph, too, was impressed with facility and renovations, but more so by the students.”
“I’ve started to meet the kids here today who’ve faced many challenges,” said Krueger. “They’re winners.”
Cynthia couldn’t agree more and she hopes her story will be a motivation to her former classmates.
“I hope what I said struck them; they have so many opportunities here,” said Cynthia. “I hope they see someone who came from a similar background was able to go off and do bigger and better things, and they can too.”
After the turkey feast had been devoured and the speeches completed, the students went back to their classes not only with full bellies, but with a renewed sense of optimism for their futures.