For students and faculty at Inner City High School, January 21 will be a day that they won’t soon forget, all thanks to some special guests that showed up for lunch.
The entire Edmonton Oilers roster, along with President and CEO Patrick LaForge, President of Hockey Operations Kevin Lowe and General Manager Steve Tambellini, visited the school for lunch to get a feel for the new facility, which was opened just after Christmas, and to interact with the students and faculty.
Designed for kids that come from challenging backgrounds, Inner City High is a facility that offers students an academic and arts-based alternative to traditional schools. According to EOCF Executive Director Natalie Minckler, the visit from the Oilers team provided a sense of hope and support to the kids.
“A lot of the kids have had various challenges in their lives, and when they see Jordan Eberle
, Taylor Hall
, Shawn Horcoff
and the entire team and management come down to this lunch, it demonstrates to them that they are an important cog in the wheel and that they can really make something out of their lives.”
School principle Dr. Joe Cloutier agrees.
“It’s a real big boost for the young people,” he said. “They feel important, they feel like people care, and they really get to see the work of the EOCF in action. It makes them feel really good.”
After being forced to move out of their previous home, they moved to the corner of 112 Ave and 101 St., a building that is 10,000 sq. feet larger than the old one and in a safer neighborhood. The new building was purchased with the funds raised by the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation as part of their Legacy Project.
“When you come here the students really enjoy it and you can see how much they appreciate the new facility,” added Oilers Captain Shawn Horcoff
. “It shows you how much the program has grown over the course of only four years. I don’t think there’s anything more valuable in life than an education, and what these kids are getting here is a second chance at that.”
After a series of introductory speeches, the team spread themselves out amongst the students and faculty in the school’s eating area, where they ate lunch, signed autographs and casually mingled with the crowd.
Aside from helping out the kids, the event left all the school's students with smiles on their faces and the chance to be part of a very special experience.
“One thing that’s always been in place with this organization is a feel for the responsibility to give back to the community,” said Tambellini. “Our players work hard to be responsible and understand the obligations of what they can deliver to help people. So when you can actually come in and see the building, see the people in it and listen to the programs that are in place, it’s a very rewarding feeling.”
Inner City High moved into its new building after the Christmas holidays and the new building is currently undergoing renovations to further customize the space to these student’s needs.