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Finland’s first skateboarding high school to open in 2021

Architects of the programme say the skateboarding curriculum will give students many real-life skills.

Skeittilukio Tampere Hiedanranta skeittaus
From rebellious subculture to school curriculum. Image: Jani Aarnio / Yle

Finland is getting closer to rolling out its first skateboarding high school in Tampere.

From the fall of 2021, Tampere’s Sampo central upper secondary school will offer 20 students spots in its skateboarding programme, which also incorporates a communications focus. Sampo high school is a specialised high school offering programmes in sports and communications.

“Skateboarding involves a lot more than rolling on a board – it’s about event production and marketing, networking, filming and managing social media,” explains Teemu Grönlund, a science teacher who also chairs local skateboarding association Kaarikoirat.

Grönlund pointed out that urban skateboarding has faced a long road to becoming socially acceptable, or mainstream, in Finland. One watershed moment in the sport was being added to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. American skateboarding star Lizzie Armanto, a dual Finnish citizen, is joining Finland's OIympic skateboarding team.

“Students can gain a career as well as a high school diploma if they learn content and event production while building a network in Finland as well as abroad,” Grönlund added.

Jorma Suonio, director of upper secondary education in Tampere, said the skateboarding programme was a way for the city to offer students an education that’s not only modern but also offers teens a space to make use of their skills and interests. However, repurposing parts of Sampo central upper secondary school for skating carries a 1.1 million euro bill, according to Suonio.

Tampere's skateboarding school is not a world first, however. The city's educators have conducted several field trips to Bryggeriet, a skateboarding high school in Malmö, Sweden for inspiration.

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