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Parents call for hockey academy at NWSS

Some parents would like the New Westminster school district to set up a hockey academy, but action from the district and school board is slow, according to DPAC vice-chair Paul Johansen.

“It’s been in the works for seven years,” claims Johansen, who has three children in the New Westminster school district.

“All these propositions that have come in have not been shared with the trustees. I’m shocked that those senior administrators are not sharing this information.”

But school board chair Michael Ewen claims that there just isn’t enough information yet to proceed.

“I’ve received one random email. It’s an odd way to get something done in a school,” Ewen said, adding that such a proposal would normally require a presentation to the school board trustees, not just an email.

Pacific Rim Hockey (PRH), the institution that runs the hockey academies, is already working in three schools in Pitt Meadows, two in Port Coquitlam, two in Coquitlam and one in Langley.

Craig Millin, who’s promoting the academy in New Westminster for PRH, admits that he had only been in touch with the school district through email and that he was still waiting for a response.

“I’m always anxious to have it happen sooner,” he said, “but this is a normal process for me.”

The hockey academy would probably be located at New Westminster secondary, which is next to Moody Park Arena.

According to Millin, the academy is an inclusive, co-ed program that provides incentives for students to excel in both sport and academics. Students are motivated to study because their time at the hockey academy is reduced if their grades start slipping.

Millin emphasizes that the program is not elitist. Priority is given to students within the school’s catchment area, and their selection is done on a first-come first-served basis.

The focus is on learning and practice, not competition.

“We don’t play minor hockey,” says Millin. “I still strongly believe in minor hockey, but we want the kids to enjoy playing with their friends.”

Coaches are certified by Hockey Canada, and a criminal record check is performed, he said.

Academic teachers from the host schools also play a role, he added.

“Every hockey academy has a teacher assigned to it to maintain the integrity of the curriculum.”

Students enrolled in the hockey program learn basics like power skating, puck skills and tactical play. Theoretical classes also teach them about nutrition, responsibility and goal-setting. The program costs $224 a month and it’s usually paid by the parents.

According to Ewen, it’s too late to set anything up for 2011-12.

Johansen believes that incorporating the hockey academy would be in step with the school district’s reputation for providing diverse opportunities for students.

“New Westminster has a lot of programs,” Johansen said. “They just opened up a hairdressing apprenticeship, a plumbing apprenticeship. We want to make hockey big.”

newsroom@newwestnewsleader.com

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