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Islanders Tell POB Kids To Aim High

Elementary school students in Plainview wrapped up a home-and-home exchange with the New York Islanders after some players made an appearance on their turf.

Three of the team’s finest pro hockey stars answered questions and signed autographs for more than 150 kids between grades three and five in a Monday morning assembly at Kramer Lane Elementary School on Nov. 25. The visit came two weeks after the students’ chorus serenaded an Islanders home game under music teacher Jonathan Wibben’s direction.

The teacher showed his Islanders pride Monday morning, sporting his own bright blue and orange Islanders cap.

“The ultimate goal was for the kids to have an amazing experience,” Wibben said of the Nassau Veteran Memorial Coliseum performance, which drew roughly 450 family members and friends across the Plainview-Old Bethpage area. “We are all huge Islanders fans in this town and this is a really nice chance for the kids to meet the players personally.”

Islanders forward Frans Nielsen stood beside defensemen Matt Donovan and Radek Martinek in front of a crowded auditorium of kids eager to meet and greet with the players. Students asked them questions about life on and off the ice with topics ranging from anti-bullying, exercise and teamwork.

“The kids were so excited to talk about school and making healthy choices,” said Kerri McCarthy, principal of the Blue Ribbon-awarded Kramer Lane school. “I think students need more of that nowadays.”

The trio of Islanders stars was only one of several group visits planned throughout the island Monday morning, with Islanders forward Michael Grabner and teammate defenseman Thomas Hickey checking in at Old Bethpage Elementary School on Round Swamp Road. Players also hit elementary and middle schools in Franklin Square, Holtsville, Levittown, North Merrick, Seaford and Setauket.

The goal of the visits was to tell students they need absolute focus in the classroom — just like the Islanders practice on the ice.

“I always wanted to work hard — in and out of school,” Donovan told the students. “If you don’t set your goals high, you’re not going to be able to reach them. If you challenge yourself, you only get better.”

Nielsen was asked how he stayed in shape and kept active when he was not busy putting the puck past opposing goaltenders.

“It’s very important to do more than just stay inside and play video games,” the Islanders center said to the kids. “You’ve got to get out and exercise and it will only help you have more energy in school.”