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Oilers ICE School Teach More Than Hockey

by Marc Ciampa / Edmonton Oilers
Students of Edmonton Oilers ICE School stand in front of the Gretzky statue at Rexall Place. Up on level 4 of Rexall Place is a classroom: the home of the Edmonton Oilers ICE School. The Edmonton Oilers ICE School is an educational program for Grades 2-9 students. Each week a teacher and class of students move into the classroom to use the fascinating world of Rexall Place and Northlands.

They use the time to bring a real world understanding to many of the things that they will be studying that year. By coming every day for a week they have time to read, write, observe, calculate and generally enjoy making connections. The teachers are assisted in the process by the program coordinator, Sandy VanRiper. She works with each teacher to plan the activities and interviews that will compliment the curriculum for that year.

“My personal mission as program coordinator is to expose teachers and students to the ‘real world’ in a way that connects and makes sense out of various curriculum objectives, while taking advantage of a high level of interest to create a once in a life time learning experience,” said VanRiper.

2006-07 was another great year at the Edmonton Oilers ICE School. 24 excellent teachers and their classes came from 22 different schools to each spend their own week in the classroom on the fourth floor of Rexall Place. They measured the main concourse, ran around it (something you could never do during an event – even if you wanted to!), studied the 128 years of history in Northlands, interviewed some of the over 100 different presenters who volunteers to talk about their jobs and talked and talked hockey. All the while they wrote and sketched in their journals.

One example is Darren Krill, the Oilers Corporate Communications Manager. Krill tells stories of working with the team and the media, making sure the Oilers communicate clearly. He puts his skills to use outside of hockey as author of a new critically acclaimed children's book, "The Uncle Duncle Chronicles: Escape from Treasure Island." It's this kind of depth that captures the children's imaginations.

As in the four preceding seasons of ICE School, a big highlight for kids was the October Read-in week visit by Oilers coaches and players. Every ICE School class played host to a guest and for many it was a dream come true. By the end of June, 500 journals will be full to the brims of wonderful memories of a year’s worth of learning.

The program is made possible through funding from the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation and is operated in cooperation with Northlands, which provides an incredible range of resources.  Both organizations allow staff the chance to interact with students, one of the key ingredients to making the connections authentic and interesting.
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