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Compliments of the Parks On-line Resources for Teachers and Students (PORTS) program and equipment provided by Polycom, 8th graders at Pacific Union School were given the honor of a personal tour of the governor’s office led by Governor Schwarzenegger himself.

The PORTS program provides teachers and students with complete units of study through live videoconference. Typically these units include interpreter guided lessons on tide pools, paleontology or redwood ecology, but last Thursday at 10 a.m. in the computer lab at Pacific Union School, students were able to videoconference in a special conversation with the Governor as he shared stories about his childhood, the supportive role his parents played in his life, and why he feels today’s students need to have both a strong physical and intellectual education. When asked what his first impressions were when he immigrated to the United States, the Governor responded, “How generous the people were.” The Governor went on to explain that upon his arrival to Los Angeles for training as a champion body builder, he was given a place to live and people in his community welcomed him with pots, pans and other household items to help him get settled.

The PORTS videoconference today was piloted as a new component of the “Your Voice in Government” unit, addressing 8th grade social studies standards, and also included students from the Imperial Valley at Heber Middle School. The Governor answered questions from both schools before taking them on a tour of his office where he shared with the students the significance of many of his personal items; a painting of where he grew up in Austria, a crystal barbell award he received, and even a photo of his Labrador Retriever, Gustav.

The PORTS program allows students access to park experts regardless of their geographic location or economic status. Park Interpreters can engage students through direct eye contact and conversation as they sit in their classrooms and study science, history, language arts and other academic content. For more information regarding the PORTS program please contact the Humboldt County Office of Education Resource Center at 445-7074 or visit the PORTS website at http://www.ports.parks.ca.gov.

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