Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 25, 1999
Pianist gets his chance
Student plays for Governor General as she visits francophone school
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
All those years of piano lessons have paid off for nine-year-old Nathaniel Preston.
He's not playing concerts with the Edmonton Symphony or pounding out another version of Bach at the Winspear.
"This is better," says Nathaniel after performing for Adrienne Clarkson, the new Governor General of Canada.
The Grade 4 student from Ecole Maurice-Lavall‚e accompanied his classmates on the piano as they sang A la volette for Clarkson, who visited the school Oct. 19 as part of her cross-Canada tour.
She also visited seniors at St. Andrew's Centre and students at Ecole Secondaire Ste. Marguerite d'Youville in St. Albert.
"It was really good," Nathaniel said of the opportunity to play for Clarkson. "She's a nice lady."
The young pianist is not quite sure of all the duties that go along with a Governor General's title, except that she gets to "go to a lot of places."
His fellow classmate Dominique Goudreau added, "She represents the Queen because the Queen can't always come to Canada. That's a good job."
During her short speech to the students, Clarkson praised their hard work and commended the school, the first and largest francophone school in Western Canada, for its work in preserving the French culture in the community.
Maurice-Lavall‚e alumnus Brant Inman had a chance to speak with Clarkson.
"I'm a federalist all the way," said the University of Alberta student. "I agree with what she says about preserving Canada.
"It was an honour to meet her."
Inman and former students who had received the Governor General's Award in previous years were on hand to visit with Clarkson.
"I have it stored in a box somewhere," Inman said of his Governor General's Award medal. " I guess I'll have to get it out and display it now."
Principal Marilyn Magnan and her staff had been busy ordering flowers and preparing for Clarkson's arrival.
"But we didn't want to do too much," Magnan said. "This is still a school, not some hotel or reception hall. We wanted her to see our school.
"(Her visit) is really good for the school. It gives us some exposure. People don't think there are French communities outside Quebec."
Clarkson also made personal visits to three classrooms - Grades 6, 8 and 10.