New York Islanders Jason Chimera and Ryan Strome took a break from tearing up Brooklyn’s Barclays Center ice to pay a visit to Oceanside’s School No. 5 on Nov. 16.
Principal Scott Bullis entered the school in the Islanders School Day contest and won a visit from the NHL stars, who shared stories about their lives on and off the ice, signed autographs and posed for pictures with students and staff.
Bullis said the school took a group photo of students in Islanders regalia holding posters, and included that in the online application. He added that only about 10 elementary schools on Long Island got the opportunity, and that the packed room of students welcomed Strome and Chimera with open arms.
“It was overwhelming,” Bullis said smiling. “We had 500-plus children chanting ‘Islanders,’ and every time anybody stopped talking, the chant started again.”
The team-sponsored assembly focuses on teaching kids about the importance of reading, working hard and staying in school, which are the most fundamental building blocks in life regardless of what profession children end up in, according to the Islanders website.
Students enjoyed hearing about the intricacies of hockey and some of the unusual challenges that players face, including having to shift their loyalties when they switch to a new team.
“It must be very hard to meet the new team and adjust,” said Ava Dimuzio, a sixth-grader, “but they said that they just try to remember to be nice to everyone.”
Another sixth-grader was struck by Strome’s story of playing against his brother. “He must have had mixed emotions,” Hayden Green said, “but he just did his thing.”
Ryan Strome said that his most important message for the students was to make sure they work hard every day, stay focused and put 100 percent into their school work.
“The guys gave a couple really good life tips about being dedicated to school, and what school was like for them before going into the NHL,” Bullis said. “Some of the kids said it was something they’ll remember for a lifetime.”