An ice idea: Students building outdoor skating rink for community use

Cathy Dobson

More than a dozen parents and students from Sarnia Christian School plan to spend this week building Sarnia’s only public outdoor skating rink.

When they are finished, there will be a 50’ X 100’ sheet of ice on the flattest area of the schoolyard at Exmouth and Pontiac Drive, says teacher Nicole Rekman.

“It’s really great for the school community, as well as our surrounding community,” said Rekman. “We really want it to be an annual thing.”

Rekman’s Grade 4 and 5 class is behind the project.

“It all started the week after Christmas break when the kids found an ice patch at recess one day,” she said. “They came in talking about how cool it would be to skate on our school property.”

Rekman saw a teachable moment.

She had her students write a letter to school principal Len Smit, making a case for an ice rink and requesting permission.

They researched what materials would be needed and the cost, and then wrote a theatrical presentation for Sarnia’s Awesome Foundation trustees, who dole out $1,000 each month to the most worthy community project.

Their skit won over the trustees and the kids now have enough to build a rink, said Rekman.

“The trouble is that when we went out to start it, the ground was too frozen to lay boards down this year,” she said.  “So we’re going to pack the snow down, create snow banks around the edges and flood it.

“Hopefully next year we can have boards.”

Her students, who are 9, 10 and 11 years old, have incorporated the project into their math class, calculating area and perimeter. They’ve used their research skills to learn how to make a rink and they’ve done persuasive writing in applying to the Awesome Foundation and the school principal.

“We also hope to use the rink for gym class and have the students help maintain it once it’s built,” Rekman said.

The public will be allowed to skate at their own risk outside of school hours.

“I am incredibly proud of my students,” Rekman added.  “They’ve done the work, used their gifts, and now we’ve got people really interested and excited.”