P.M. delivers 50,000th computer for Computers for Schools

Grant Park High School
Winnipeg, Manitoba

By Tyler Delmage and Jaime Tapper (Grade 12)

Prime Minister Jean Chretien helped the Computers for Schools program celebrate a milestone by presenting their 50,000th refurbished computer to Grant Park High School in Winnipeg, February 13. Fueled by the volunteer efforts of the Telephone Pioneers, Computers for Schools is a government program that recycles hardware and software from corporate, government and individual donations to Canadian schools and libraries.

With the Prime Minister and his entourage assembled in the gym in front of the entire student body, the Principal announced the arrival of the 50,000th computer. The Student Council President, Michelle Opperman, and Vice-President, Jennifer Schoen, assisted the Prime Minister in unveiling the computer to the delight of the audience. As the applause subsided, the Prime Minister took the podium to deliver a speech. Just as he began to speak, he was interrupted by a small group of students from another school demonstrating against Canada's position on Iraq. Chretien waved away approaching security, allowing the visiting students to sit on the stage, and said , "You want to do that, it's fine with me. You will sit down. You will be quiet and you will learn something." His last words were followed by thunderous applause in support of the Prime Minister. Unfazed by the disruption, Chretien continued his speech by encouraging the student body to be well-educated and to be familiar with new technology in order to succeed in their future. He also announced the launching of the Millennium Scholarship Program to help thousands of students finance their studies. Chretien then entertained questions from students for approximately 20 minutes.

Before the assembly, the Prime Minister was greeted at the front door by Grant Park's student council representatives. He was escorted to the school library for a student demonstration that showcased 10 ongoing school projects and Internet applications. The Prime Minister was joined by Lloyd Axworthy, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Ronald Duhamel, Secretary of State, Science, Research and Development and Western Diversification; David Iftody, Member of Parliament, Provencher; Linda McIntosh, Minister, Manitoba Education and Training; and Garry Grubert, Principal of Grant Park.

The Computers for Schools program aims to supply 250,000 computers to schools within the next two years through the assistance of charitable organizations, such as the Telephone Pioneers, and private sector companies. Working with Computers for Schools in connecting students to the Internet is another government program called SchoolNet. SchoolNet, in partnership with public and private organizations, provides support for teachers developing educational programs with students. Their goals include the enhancement of educational opportunities through the medium of the World Wide Web and to stimulate the Canadian multimedia industry. Before schools can log on, the donated computers must be refurbished to meet the demands of today's classroom environment. The Telephone Pioneers provide skilled volunteer workers from the telecommunications industry to take on this task. Students are also employed and trained to assist the volunteers.

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