Park Forest, Schools

Illinois School Benefits From Chicago Blackhawks Programs

Illinois School Blackhawks program
Illinois School third graders, ( r.) Kamari Booker, Joshua Johnson, Calleigh Ollins, learn the fine points of goal tending. (John Smierciak photo)

Program encourage recreational reading, healthy living, exercise and team work


By: Richard Barry

What does a hockey game’s rare “hat trick play” have in common with the tricks played by the central character in Dr. Seuss’ children’s classic, The Cat in the Hat?

Answer: the Chicago Blackhawks.

The team, in cooperation with the Dover Corporation, sponsors a reading program for second through sixth grade students as well as its “Get Out and Learn” (GOAL) program which teaches elementary school students the fine points of floor hockey, a modified version of the original game which replaces pucks for balls and substitutes gym shoes for ice skates.

Matteson District 162’s Illinois School in Park Forest, Illinois is benefiting from the Blackhawks Reading and GOAL programs this year because of an initiative by its third-grade teacher, Michelle Duh.

“I’m a huge Blackhawks fan who is thrilled not only with the team and its accomplishments but with the organization’s sponsorship of these two Important initiatives which address students intellectual and physical growth,” explained Duh.

Since October, Illinois School’s 41 third graders have read more than 25,000 pages of recreational reading, fiction or non-fiction outside of the classroom, Duh explained.

“We’re well on our way to finish the program in February with a significant number of books read.  This Blackhawks program helps our students develop a real love of reading, a most important component of their growth and development,” added Duh.

Visitors to Duh’s classroom note huge Blackhawks posters around the room. She often refers to the sport of hockey during her lessons.

Earlier this month, Duh enrolled her third-grade students in the Blackhawks GOAL program to provide them an opportunity to learn and understand hockey, a sport many have not experienced, understood or witnessed.

Members of the Chicago Blackhawks fan development staff, led by Danny Tranchiea, arrived at Illinois School recently with a bundle of hockey sticks, balls instead of pucks and nets which they donated to the school’s physical education program.

“The Illinois School is one of 150 elementary schools in the Chicago metropolitan area to benefit from the Chicago Blackhawks GOAL program this year. We focus on the importance of healthy living and exercise by conducting floor hockey clinics where we teach young students the basics of the game as well as team building skills and the importance of team work,” Tranchiea said.

“We’re most appreciative of Ms. Duh’s initiative in bringing the resources of the Chicago Blackhawks to the Illinois School. These two programs, to encourage a love of independent reading outside of school and the value of teamwork while exercising at a sport that can be played indoors and out is most valuable. And besides, the kids had great fun, which is always a very good thing,” said Dr. Carl Cogar, principal.

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