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Red Wings Foundation teaches education and dedication

September 26, 2012

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Conner Raymond and fellow kindergarteners run in place during the exercise portion of the Detroit Red Wings Foundation assembly at Kaiser Elementary in Roseville Sept. 19.
Shaun Clayton, a fourth-grader, prepares for a shoot-off against the teachers at the assembly.

ROSEVILLE — The roar of students shouting in unison echoed through the gym at Kaiser Elementary in Roseville Sept. 19.

For the hundreds of students dressed in red and white, this wasn’t just any ordinary assembly — it was an assembly designed to inspire, made possible by their heroes.

No Red Wings made it to Kaiser for the assembly, but “Coach John” and “Coach Zack” from the Red Wings Foundation entertained the kindergarten through sixth-grade students with messages from the team, games, exercise, a student versus teacher shootout and other fun activities.

Sixth-grade student Summer Smith thought the assembly was a blast and said she was surprised how much she learned.

“I thought the big trophy thing was called something else, but I learned it was called the Stanley Cup and that the Red Wings have won it 11 times,” Smith said. “It was fun.”

The fun was themed with lessons about education, dedication, nutrition, exercise and goal setting mixed into games and trivia, but the most important lesson, although inherent throughout it, wasn’t a focus of the assembly.

“You students here at Kaiser aren’t all that different from the Red Wings as professional hockey players, when it come to education,” said John Guerreno, or “Coach John.”

“You wake up in the morning and you get dressed and you eat breakfast, then you head off to school,” he continued. “Well, each morning the Red Wings wake up, get dressed and eat breakfast, then they head down to Joe Louis Arena. When you get here to school, you have a cubby or a locker where you put your things before you go to your classroom, and when the Red Wings get to the Joe, they put their things in their locker before heading out to the ice.”

A wave of smiles spread across the room — a little boy in a Red Wings jersey shouted, “wow” from his seat on the gym floor, and another told his teacher he was going to be a Red Wing one day.

Bringing the comparison back to the key points of education and dedication, Guerreno spoke of the importance of studying hard and practicing hard for success in anything.

The kids loved it, shooting their hands in the air to be chosen for each question and activity, but for the teachers the important thing remained the message.

“The message of setting goals and tying it to education is really the important thing,” said Kaiser Principal Laurie Kinch. “It goes into the overall message we try to teach here of making good choices.”

Kaiser Teacher Jennifer Shiemke booked the assembly a year in advance after her son’s school was visited by the foundation last year.

“We want to encourage education and health and fitness, and it was wonderful for that,” Shiemke said. “The kids loved it, and they are excited to use the equipment.

The equipment used during the assembly — hockey sticks, nets, pads and balls — was donated to the school at the end of the assembly.

The Red Wings Foundation, part of Ilitch Charities, will visit 115 elementary schools in the metro Detroit and surrounding areas this year to speak on the importance of education, working hard and living a healthy lifestyle. The series of assemblies is made possible with sponsorship from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Kroger of Michigan.

For more information on the Red Wings Foundation, visit

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