For any high school student that wished they could play hockey instead of sitting in class, now they can at Charles Hays Secondary School (CHSS).
CHSS now offers a hockey academy for students to take as part of the curriculum.
The program, which is developed by Pacific Rim Hockey Academy (PRHA), is a first-semester course that PRHA says will “balance students’ educational requirements while developing their hockey skills.”
The students spend three hours a week on the ice, getting skill-based instruction. They also get two hours of dryland training through the week, whether that is taking on Butze Rapids Trail, swimming or other conditioning exercises.
The decision to bring the academy here was to enable students to have more choice in their education, said CHSS principal Sandy Pond.
“For all of our students, we want them to be able to connect their learning to their interests,” she said.
The program is also good for building leadership and healthy living skills, said Pond.
CHSS debuted the program this school year after Prince Rupert Middle School first offered the academy last year.
There are 29 students enrolled in the course, which is open to students from Grades 9 through 12. There is approximately a 2:1 boys to girls ratio in the program this year.
The kids are excited about the program, said the principal, which may equate to higher attendance.
“When kids are interested in something, they’re invested and then it helps us in other aspects of their learning as well.”
The program is something Pond wishes had been available for her kids when they were in school.
“All four of my kids played hockey but never had the opportunity when they went to school,” she said. “The ice is empty all day anyway, so it makes sense to have the ice used. It’s worked out really well,” she said.
The program is being taught by Troy O’Toole, who normally does counselling and peer tutoring. Community members are also involved in both dryland training and on-ice coaching, which Pond said will help the students connect with not only the teacher, but a number of people in the community as well.
Like most other similar programs, it will be evaluated on a yearly basis to see if it will be renewed for the next year. But Pond suggested if the school had 30 interested students in a year’s time, it would probably be back.
PRHA debuted its first hockey academy in 2004 and now has programs in 13 schools across British Columbia.