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Oilers Foundation Gives Gift of Early Education

by Andrea Goss / Edmonton Oilers

At Princeton School in northeast Edmonton, 16 Kindergarten students were given the gift of early education, thanks to a new full-day Kindergarten program funded by the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (EOCF).

“Today the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation announced funding for full-day Kindergarten here at Princeton School,” said Natalie Minckler, EOCF Executive Director. “It’s actually the second Kindergarten program that the Oilers Foundation is funding and we couldn’t be more delighted or proud to celebrate with teachers, parents and the entire school population.”

Parents, teachers and members of the public school system were greeted by orange and blue decorations adorning the walls and hand-painted hockey sticks on Thursday morning, as they joined in a celebration of literacy at Princeton. Scattered among the speeches were two musical performances – an original piece about full-day learning, performed by the Kindergarten class, and The Hockey Song by Stompin’ Tom Connors, performed by the Grade 3 and 4 classes.

“As a father, I’ve seen the benefits of early learning and just how much children develop at this age; their learning is exponential,” said Dean Hess, Principal of Princeton School. “This contribution means our littlest kids will be able to come to Kindergarten for a full day and get some basic literacy, numeracy and social skills, and be able to have a great start for their education.”

“We know the difference full-day Kindergarten makes for children who live in socially vulnerable communities,” added Sandra Woitas, Edmonton Public Schools Foundation Director. “The investment the Oilers have made means that almost 20 of these little bean sprouts are going to have a real opportunity to get ready for life and be ready for the formal curriculum of Grade 1.”

In 2011, the Oilers Foundation funded their first full-day Kindergarten program at Lauderdale School.

“We’ve seen the success of the young learners that attended full-day Kindergarten there,” said Minckler. “Their speech has improved, their learning has improved and their parents have been able to get full-time jobs to support their families.”

Lauderdale Kindergarten teacher Terry Odegard was thrilled to hear about the new program at Princeton, as she knows what full-day Kindergarten means for the future of these young learners.

“The literacy levels have just taken off, the kids are soaring. They went to Grade 1 and now they’re in Grade 2 and they’re just so ready to be in school and to stay all day.”

Whether it’s learning to count, write their names or how to interact and problem-solve with other students throughout the day, full-day Kindergarten students are being set up for successful life-long learning in their future.

For more information on other programs funded by the Oilers Foundation, please visit

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