This winter the Killarney Community Centre ice rink has been filled frequently with a mass of ELL and international students from Killarney Secondary. Equipped with helmets, hockey sticks and plastic pucks, the students have gradually improved their on-ice skills.
They're still a ways away from Wayne Gretzky, but Killarney ELL teacher Geoff Hudson says that's not the point. The real aim of his "hockey unit" is to immerse his students in Canada's sport.
Over the past few months, Hudson has taught his students (all of whom are new to Canada) the basics of hockey, its heroes and icons, the importance of the 72 Summit Series and of course the NHL's place in hockey today. Most importantly Hudson has tacked on an experiential component encouraging his students to hit the ice and get firsthand experience with a slap shot.
"This gives kids confidence and self-esteem through all the kinesthetic activity," says Hudson. He says many of his students come from countries where hockey has little to no following. They see the hockey-mania among their peers and are confused and disconnected. It makes integration that much tougher.
So far Hudson has managed to convince 150 ELL students to try their hand at hockey.
Harman Banger, a Grade 9 student from the Punjab, is one of them. For Banger, the hockey unit has been a blast. He knew a little about the sport prior to Hudson's unit, but his knowledge has come light years since then.
Hudson says the unit wouldn't be successful without the support of Killarney teachers Shannon Moore (who also happens to be a former national Ringette player) and Liam Wong. Retired teacher Pierre Grenier has also come back to support Hudson.
Watch the CBC coverage on this story HERE (starts at 27:08).