Ducks make their mark on Maxwell Elementary

At 9 a.m.
on a bright November morning, the organizers of the Anaheim Ducks’ school beautification
project at Mattie Lou Maxwell Elementary in Anaheim had divided several dozen
coaches, staff members and volunteers into separate teams tasked with planting
trees, painting murals and constructing a permanent street hockey rink on
school grounds as the students enjoyed a day off on Veteran’s Day.

 

Head coach
Bruce Boudreau, a man normally accustomed to offering direction and giving
commands, used the opportunity to step back for a moment in a supervisory
position.

 

“Listen,”
Boudreau said, “if I barked orders, I’d have no idea what I’d be talking about.
My wife’s already kicked me off my mural. She said ‘get out of here, you’ll
destroy it.’ So I’m sort of just going around and being amazed at what is being
done. Like, building a hockey rink in a school – that’s pretty cool.”

 

The project
culminated with a Reading Is the Goal Day when the students returned on Tuesday
as coaches, staff members and broadcasters visited individual classrooms. After
some street hockey, the kids gathered in the newly created rink as John Ahlers,
the Ducks’ play-by-play broadcaster on Prime Ticket, read to the kids from
Brady Brady and the Great Rink, a book with hockey roots that seemed entirely appropriate
on a clear and warm autumn day.

 

“Kids are
the salt of the earth,” Ahlers said. “It’s fun to talk to them and listen to
the questions they ask, and see, in just the short time since the Samuelis have
owned us, how much more of an impact we’ve had, because those kids – I then in
turn see them come out to games. When I come back the next year, I see them
wearing Ducks gear, I see them wearing Ducks t-shirts and it has made an
impact. You know, I mean, 10 years is a long time for you and I, but it’s a
pretty short period of time for an organization to do something like that. But
to have a tangible difference that you can see in that short a period of time
is something we should all be proud of.”

 

The school
makeover was a part of the club’s Scholastic Curriculum of Recreation and
Education (S.C.O.R.E.) program, a healthy outreach program designed to enrich
the lives and activity of elementary school students in Southern California. At
a grassroots level, Ducks employees, alumni, sponsors and season ticket holders
are immersing themselves as community organizers in enacting tangible
development of resources – which, on Monday, saw Scott Niedermayer join the
cause by digging holes and planting trees along the schoolyard perimeter.

 

“It’s
important to get out,” Niedermayer said. “This is a community, what we call
home, and to get out here to help out and be visible, all that helps everybody.
It helps us, it helps the school here, helps the kids, so it’s a great
situation for everyone.”

 

With no
professional hockey being played in Orange County, community outreach events
take center stage as the Ducks look to remain in the foreground of the region’s
landscape while simultaneously giving a an appreciated “facelift” to a school
in need, according to Maxwell principal Marcy Chant.

 

“This is
just such a gift to us. There are huge budget cuts,” Chant said. “Magnolia
School Disctrict has been very, very successful at managing their money, but
there’s not a lot of room for extras. So we’re thrilled that we can have
murals, that we can brighten the campus.”

 

“And that’s
something we wouldn’t have in this day and age without the Ducks.”

 

As
Niedermayer planted a tree, Ahlers was assigned to mural duty and Boudreau walked
from station to station offering encouragement, amazed by the collective
efforts of his fellow volunteers.

 

“The trees are a great idea, and then
the murals, they’re going to look so beautiful, because they’re doing a great
job,” Boudreau said. “I think it’s a really, really cool project, and much more
than I thought. You know, I had no idea. When they were saying ‘beautification
of a school,’ I thought we were just going to sweep the grounds or something.
But this is pretty neat.”

 

The efforts
to bring the Ducks to Maxwell were coordinated by fourth grade teacher Kristin
Jones, a season ticket holder who shares her seats with another teacher in the
district and is active in the team’s community and scholastic programs. 25,000
students annually are impacted by the S.C.O.R.E. program.

 

“It’s amazing. It shows how much they
value education, how much they value schools, and these kids are going to look
up to these guys as role models forever,” Chant said. “So we’re thrilled.”

 

The team is forbidden
from contacting its active players during the lockout, thus complicating public
relations possibilities and increasing the value of having a large alumni base
in the area, including Jeff Friesen, who took part in Reading Is the Goal Day
and coaches in the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League.

 

There’s also
Niedermayer, who continues to be an active figure in the team’s outreach,
something that he’s more than happy to be a part of.

 

“We’re still
calling it home here, and if they ask me to pop out, it’s easy to do,” he said.
“I have a bit of time now, obviously, and my kids are getting older, so to lend
a hand to other kids in the area is a great thing.”