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Clairton board OKs dek hockey concept

| Friday, May 24, 2013, 1:56 a.m.

A new dek hockey club is forming in Clairton City School District.

Eighth-grader Christopher Johnston pitched the idea to school directors at Wednesday night's meeting with the help of secondary mathematics teacher and new club faculty sponsor Mike Henninger.

School directors unanimously approved the club, pending approval by the Clairton Education Association. District officials said the sponsor position would have to be added to the contract in a memorandum of understanding.

“Some reasons it would be great for the school is it is (an) alternative to basketball or football,” Christopher said. “Hockey builds confidence and teaches leadership, teamwork, responsibility, and it's great for exercise. We often see other professional athletes involved in criminal activity, but this is rare for an NHL player.”

Christopher said he received information from Al Ernst, CEO of South Hills Dek Hockey along Worthington Avenue in Jefferson Hills, about using the rink at $75 per hour, and equipment for 20 players would cost about $1,500.

“The code of conduct at South Hills Dek Hockey rink provides for a no-checking game, which allows us to safely enjoy this game,” Christopher said. “Additionally, they do not tolerate any abusive behavior, which helps us to learn the proper behavior that is expected from hockey players.”

He presented the board with a list of classmates interested in the club.

Henninger said he was unsure of sponsoring the club until he spoke with Christopher.

“The excitement and enthusiasm were pouring out of this kid,” Henninger said. “I decided this was a worthy undertaking. This was something worth doing. You can tell Chris loves hockey as much as I do, and as such he shares my passion and my desire to share that passion with other players. I love hockey. It's an intense high-speed workout like no other ... Hockey's very much like a chess game. There's strategy. There's as much thought that goes into it as there is physical strength ... One of the biggest things is it builds an understanding of the value of hard work.”

Henninger said he's not sure how much start-up money the club would need, and would like to open it to students in seventh through 12th grades.

He also expressed concerns about playing seniors against seventh-graders, and he has to find a way to break down teams according to grade level.

Christopher said South Hills Dek Hockey teams consist of players ages 13-16.

The ultimate goal is to create an interscholastic league and play against other schools, Henninger said.

In other business:

School directors approved a five-year, $200,000 loan from PNC Bank at an estimated rate of 1.91 percent. The loan is for capital improvement projects.

They approved a $2 million tax and revenue application note with PNC Bank with a rate of 1.61 percent.

The board approved a software maintenance agreement between Harris School Solutions and the district, effective July 1 through June 30, 2014, totaling $14,922.30. It is a $1,403.79 reduction from the current school year's $16,326.09 agreement, primarily because of the elimination of three software modules.

The board accepted Mincin Landscaping and Tree Service's $8,170 proposal for the district's grass mowing and brush trimming.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or