With the lights dimmed and the volume turned up on the Skype call, 32 students at Lakewood School in Carpentersville quietly gathered around a SMART Board Thursday morning as their teacher, Erin Blair, described what it was like to be a hockey referee at the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
"It's only the coolest thing that I have ever done," the 32-year-old Bloomingdale resident said, who was speaking from a hockey venue.
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Blair, a health teacher at the school, first addressed students in Amy O'Herron's sixth-grade class just before 8 a.m. She Skyped with another group of students afterward.
Blair was selected in December to referee women's hockey at the Olympics. She has been officiating since college and has refereed at the international level for 10 years.
Blair said she had thus far officiated two games in Sochi.
Her students said it was impressive that Blair is part of the Olympic Games, and have been receiving regular updates from her via emailed pictures. Blair also sent pictures of a Lakewood School pennant she has taken with her to different locations in Sochi.
Blair, whose hotel balcony overlooks the Black Sea, fielded no questions about the quality of the "dangerous face water" or the stray dogs that inhabit the Sochi area.
Instead, questions about the food, weather, travel, language, Blair's hotel and whether she had seen a McDonald's restaurant were what students wanted to know about. The students asked Blair to find a McDonald's and figure out what the Russians call the "Big Mac" sandwich.
Blair said she's adjusted fine. She said she hadn't been hit with a puck though she was knocked over by a player.
"I was nervous before my first game (between Japan and Sweden), but after it started, it was just like any other," Blair told the students.
Ricky Martinez, 12, a student in Blair's first quarter health class, was very excited for his teacher.
"We have not seen her in awhile. It's pretty awesome (that she is in Sochi)," he said.