MISSOULA -- After a longer than usual winter break, University of Montana students are skating into spring semester.

UM officials decided to break the ice with students as they return for school, by building an ice rink on the Oval. 

Tuesday morning, officials were seen putting finishing touches on the ice rink, by stringing lights around the area.

University officials said that the goal is to make students like senior, Kamm Mangun, want to come back and get involved.

"It's not only great for our social atmosphere but also just our mental health, to get out and recreate, have fun and enjoy this beautiful Montana landscape," Mangun said.

UM's University Center Director, Adriane Smith, said it's not the first time UM has had an ice rink on the Oval.

"When we started to talk about building an ice rink on the oval, we had people reach out to us from the alumni and the community saying 'oh, I remember when I was a kid and I skated on the oval and how fun that was and what wonderful memories I had,'" Smith said.

She said they want to recreate those memories and hopes students know that the University is there for them. 

"We want them to know that we are doing everything we can to make sure that they have a safe, welcoming environment as they return to campus," Smith said.

Mangun offered up a word of advice to his fellow students.

"It's a really good time to get engaged. Whether that is coming out and experiencing the ice rink, or just staying in their residence hall and hoping on a trivia call," Mangun said. 

UM is working with a local hockey and lacrosse store in town to borrow some ice skates.

The rink will be free and self-monitered with a limit of 25 people at a time, everyday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

They hope to have it open by Wednesday, as long as it's frozen.

After a week or two, community members will also be able to skate. 

To learn more about upcoming activities, visit UM's Griz Hub website.

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