EDMONTON — Eight-year-old Sofia Rota wasn’t sure who the nice man was who coached her as she spelled out “Governor General.”
“I think he helps the Queen,” she said Monday as she moved letters with her fingertips around an electronic blackboard.
But Gov. Gen. David Johnston was more interested in matters educational than vice-regal on the second day of his first official visit to Alberta.
“I’ve admired the public education system in Alberta for a long time,” Johnston said during his visit to St. Mary’s Professional Learning School, which is attended by 450 students in Grades 2 to 6. The elementary school is known for its emphasis on technology.
After being greeted by children chanting, “Good morning, your Excellency,” Johnston watched students build multi-media presentations and research environmental projects online.
He praised the school’s focus on integrating information technology into the classroom.
“It’s great to be here today to see the innovative approach you’re taking here on so many fronts,” he said.
“I think you’re setting standards for the entire country.”
Joseph Jason, 10, walked Johnston through a slide show he had prepared on Canada. The vice-regal visit — along with the attendant security and news cameras — was a little out of the ordinary for the Grade 5 student.
“It’s never really happened before to me,” he said. “I’m excited. And a bit nervous.”
After his tour, Johnston talked about the importance of incorporating information technology into more school curriculums.
Also on Monday, Premier Ed Stelmach announced a law scholarship named in honour of Canada’s new Governor General. Starting next year, $10,000 will be awarded to one student each at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and the University of Calgary. The scholarship will be awarded for academic accomplishment and community service. Recipients will be chosen by a selection committee at each university.
Johnston’s itinerary also included a luncheon with Stelmach, remarks in the legislature, an introduction to Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel and a military presentation.
He concludes his visit Tuesday in Calgary.