PSHS Hockey Skills Program Expands To Serve Area Elementary Schools

Grade 8 students from Parry Sound area elementary schools participate in the Hockey Canada Skills Academy program offered by Parry Sound High School.

The popular Hockey Canada Skills Academy program at Parry Sound High School (PSHS) has been expanded this winter to offer sessions to Grade 8 students at the school as well as students at Humphrey Public School, Nobel Public School, McDougall Public School and Wasauksing Kinomaugewgamik School.

The goal of the sessions is to develop individual hockey skills and knowledge, healthy living habits, team-building and serve as a transition activity for Grade 8 students heading into secondary school.

Qualified skills instructor and PSHS teacher AJ Wheaton said the program grew out of a desire to promote interest and growth in the hockey program at Parry Sound High School.

The program was run in weekly sessions for six weeks throughout February and March with students participating in on and off-ice instruction.

Wheaton said students arrive at the rink in the morning and begin an off-ice warmup followed by two one-hour on-ice sessions where they focus on individual hockey skills and tactics.

“Some of the skills we focus on are stick handling, passing, shooting, skating and puck control and protection. The techniques taught are progressive and designed so that students who are new to hockey all the way to elite level players will be challenged and learn something,” Wheaton said. “After a lunch break the students participate in an hour-long off-ice session that varies depending on the day. Off-ice sessions will consist of hockey theory, hockey training and testing and floorball skills.”

Skills training is supported by volunteers and community partners as well as some PSHS students who participated in the first semester of the secondary school hockey skills program.

“We have parent volunteer Jay Thomas, Wasauksing Education Counsellor Mike Kalfus and Chris Lawrence who helped with our first semester hockey program at PSHS,” Wheaton said.

Kalfus has been involved in the PSHS program since its inception. “For the Grade 8 kids from Wasauksing, I introduced the program to our school and facilitated participation for as many of our Grade 8 students as possible. I actively participated on-ice with the teacher overseeing the program,” Kalfus said.

“It has been a fantastic program for all ages, genders, and skill levels. My hope is that students will get support, growth, a feeling of belonging out of the program,” Kalfus added.

Highlights of the program for Kalfus have been seeing the students’ improvement – almost immediately – on the ice, seeing them putting the effort in and giving the students something a bit different to look forward to. He said Wheaton’s approach with Wasauksing students has been perfect.

“True community partnerships and shared success benefits all kids. The optics are huge for our young people,” Kalfus said. “To be able to actively work together to give each student a reason to go to school is a good thing. Once again, this program is a very real example of the adults coming together to benefit the kids, at their level.”

“I think that this is a great opportunity for students to experience something new. Students retain information and can implement things they learn immediately in an experiential learning setting,” Wheaton said.

“In this case, it is also an opportunity for students to meet new people and build relationships with students from other schools in our region. This should be a memorable transition activity for Grade 8 students heading into high school and will hopefully encourage them to explore more experiential education opportunities, such as the Hockey Canada Skills Academy, being offered at Parry Sound High School.”


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