Three mornings a week before school, when it’s barely light outside, more than 100 teenagers are lacing up their skates at the Oakland Ice Center. They come of their own free will, even if it means showing up at 6:45 a.m. – more than an hour before they need to be at Oakland Technical High School.
Kelley Haskins, a physical education teacher at Oakland Tech, started the before-school P.E. class this fall. She said she worried that she wouldn’t meet the 35-student minimum, but her roster now includes 115 names.
I visited the class this morning with a photographer, and watched the teenagers swizzle, slide and speed around the rink. Many of them started with little skating experience, Haskins said, but that has changed.
“It’s fun and relaxing, just to be on the ice,” Tom Geissler, 18, told me. “You are pretty much in a different world here.”
The mustachioed high school senior said he gets up well before 5 a.m. on skating days so he can catch the 5:50 bus from 14th and International (People like him make me feel incredibly lazy). On the weekends, he even works at the rink, as a skate guard.
We’ll have a story in the paper next week about the program, which is raising money to buy 100 sets of hockey gear. Local police and firefighters face off at 5:45 p.m. Dec. 6 in a ”Guns and Hoses” hockey game — a fundraiser for the cause.