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Hockey Canada Skills Academy expanding again, now to Almaguin and Mattawa schools in Sept.

The Hockey Canada Skills Academy (HCSA) program is once again expanding to more schools in the area.  

The program, which kicked off in Sept. at Parry Sound High School (PSHS), gives students in Grades 8 and above a chance to earn credits while developing individual hockey skills and knowledge, healthy living habits and team-building skills.   

In April the program was expanded to students at Humphrey Public School, Nobel Public School, McDougall Public School and Wasauksing Kinomaugewgamik School.  

The Near North District School Board (NNDSB) says the popular program is now hitting the ice at Almaguin Highlands Secondary School (AHSS) and Mattawa’s F.J. McElligott Secondary School this September.  

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Heather Hickey, AHSS Principal says the school already has 35 students interested in the program that earns the young athletes two physical education credits.   

“The co-ed program is a partnership between the school board, Almaguin Minor Hockey and Hockey Canada. It is open to all Grade 9, 10, 11 and 12 students. It’s a great program to get students excited about coming to school. Learning goes beyond shooting, passing and skating, as students learn important skills related to teamwork and communicating with one another,” Hickey says.  

She says the school’s on-ice instructors have a wealth of experience in skills development and the teachers involved with the program have demonstrated a clear commitment to scholastic achievement. 

F.J. McElligott physical education teacher and hockey skills academy lead instructor Cody Lacelle says “experiential learning opportunities” like this are very important.   

“They provide students who have different learning styles an equal opportunity to show their understanding. Students struggle with learning concepts that don’t pertain to real-world experiences. As the student interacts with the experience, it becomes real to them and easy for them to understand whatever concepts they may be dealing with. This program offers numerous ‘untraditional learning’ opportunities. It allows students to learn outside of the typical four-wall classroom.” he says.  

Lacelle explains that the goal is not to create NHL calibre hockey players, but to provide an experiential learning experience to students who may not have had the opportunity to try the sport.   

To that end, he says F.J. McElligott has three full sets of equipment to remove any barriers for students who may want to participate. The board says enthusiasm for the program is high both in the school and the greater Mattawa community.   

Lacelle says the enrolment in the class is roughly equivalent to 25 per cent of the school population and there are plans to expand the class offerings by securing more community partnerships in the years to come.  

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