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Hugh John Macdonald students stoked to shred at the skatepark

May 14, 2024 News Story
HJM - Skateboarding

Hugh John Macdonald School students are definitely demonstrating the DIY culture of skateboarding.  

On May 9, HJM students showed off their handmade skateboards at Rossbrook House. For the last month and a half, the Grades 7, 8 and 9 students have been busy building their very own skateboards from scratch.

The students participate in Eagles’ Circle, an off-campus, alternative program of HJM located at Rossbrook House. 

“It came through a conversation with Freight House, which is just down the street, and they were wondering why our students weren’t utilizing it,” said Claire Rodger, Eagles’ Circle teacher. 

“It turned out that a lot the students didn’t have skateboards, so we decided to look at if we could actually build skateboards ourselves. Scam Skate, a local company, allowed us to go into their production shop and we got to see the entire skateboard building process from start to finish, which gave us inspiration to do it ourselves.”

Rodger said the students were involved in every part of the project, from cutting and sanding the boards, to designing the graphics, to installing the trucks and wheels.

“The only part they didn’t do is Scam Skate took their designs and made vinyls and pressed those onto the boards,” Rodger said. 

“This is their project. The students have ownership of it. The wonderful thing is they didn’t even know they were doing math, science, health, and English language arts all at the same time. The connotation of an off-campus program is that we’re altering content, but this is curriculum. We just do it in a different way.”

The students also visited Graffiti Gallery to learn about skateboard art, as well as Pitikwé Skatepark in Portage Place to do some actual skateboarding.

Caiden, a Grade 8 student, decorated a deck with characters from Among Us, a popular online video game. 

“I feel very proud of myself,” Caiden said. “I learned how to use a sander and a jigsaw. I learned how to take measurements and put trucks on a skateboard.”

Reid, a Grade 9 student, designed a board based on Dragon Ball Z, a Japanese anime TV series.

“To have the ability to have a professional board like this, without having to pay for it myself, it’s a really good opportunity to start a new hobby,” Reid said.

Jarome, a Grade 8 student, used a design inspired by the video game Overwatch.

“I feel so proud. I think I’m going to do some more drawings, to see if I can get better at this,” Jarome said.

Rodger said the skateboard project cost $3,500, with funds coming from the Children’s Heritage Fund, Rossbrook House and from money the students raised themselves. 

Also instrumental in the skateboarding project were HJM bike repair teacher Richard Helbig and student teacher Thomas Aitken.

“I’ve been skateboarding for 25 years, so this was a passion project for me,” said Aitken, who hooked the students up with Scam Skate.

“It’s such a cool opportunity and the students seemed to take a lot out of it. They can see themselves in what they’ve done. Kids are naturally curious and want to learn new things. If we can create the conditions for that, we’re doing something right.”


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