Physical education teacher Chris Framp says the project came into play when he heard students at the school talking about how difficult it is to play hockey in the area.
“In terms of cost of programs, transportation to get to the rinks, things like that, it really made it almost impossible for some of the kids here to play,” says Framp. “It's just a shame for students in little communities when they can't get to Liverpool or bigger centers to utilize a rink that costs a lot of money.”
It didn’t take long for the project to go from a thought to something solid. With the idea forming in Framp’s head at the beginning of December, he says it only took about six weeks to get to this point.
Framp says he hopes this will give the students an opportunity for exposure to the sport in an organized fashion.
“We thought, with all the students in rural areas like this, the key is getting them exposed to different sports,” says Framp. “Given hockey is so popular in this community and the school, it just seemed like a natural fit to us to try and create our own little rink.”
Students will have structured time on the rink during Phys Ed classes when there are freezing temperatures.
In addition to use during school hours, there are plans to have a light installed on the power pole nearby that will run 24 hours a day. This will allow families in the community to come and enjoy the rink during the evening as well.
“If they want to come by in the evenings or on the weekend, if the ice surface is in good enough condition, they can bring their families and have their own little game of hockey or just get the kids skating,” says Framp.
Framp says the rink has been a total community effort. Part of the rink’s grant came from the school board, parents showed up at the site to help lay down the frame boards, followed by help from school board member Chris Whynot and Richard Anthony to flood the rink.
A hose provided by Anthony’s Excavation pumped the 7,000 gallons of water from the Medway River to the rink. The rink ice surface will measure 70 feet by 36 feet, and is modeled after a similar structure at Pentz Elementary School in Lunenburg.
Not only was the making of the rink a community effort, it is going to be run strictly on a volunteer basis. Framp says he is going to be taking care of it during school hours, checking the surface to either declare the rink open or closed.
“We're going to test the ice surface each day, and we're going to keep a log book,” says Framp. “When the ice surface is ready to be used, the ice surface will be open and there will be signage that will show that. On days that it's above 0 degrees and the ice thaws, the rink will be closed and we'll just wait.”
Although Framp will be tending to the rink during school hours, he lives in Bridgewater so other people have stepped up to help as well.
“We have a couple of other teachers that are volunteering to come in to do some of the watering, and we'll get some community members to help with the shoveling of the snow if we get a storm or something too,” he says. “We had to put the rink close enough to the school for there to be a water supply. We think someone will need to come and do that in the evening when it's coldest for a resurfacing once a week.”
Framp says although the rink can’t be expected to stay frozen consistently for four week, they are all hoping to have four weeks of skating between now and the end of February.
“There will be thaws, then it will just be closed until it freezes again,” he says. “The way we look at it, even if we get four weeks of skating and hockey, that's four weeks the students would not have enjoyed at all.”
Framp says he thinks it’s important people in the community realize what they are trying to do, and that “things like this can be done.”
He also adds he had great support from the school’s principal Rosanne Williams, which really helped get the project get up and running so quickly.
“She's very supportive of all things healthy living, involvement in anything physical education wise,” he says. “You come up with an idea, and she really helps get the ball rolling. I couldn't have done it without that.”