905-835-1186 211 Elgin St, Port Colborne, ON L3K 3K4


Geography students impress at GIS Conference

Oct 23, 2020
Make a professional presentation to an audience of 850

Six PCHS Geography students presented in front of an audience of 850 GIS professionals from all over Southern Ontario at the Esri GIS conference in Toronto. Jinal Patel, Danielle Rock, Cameron Lacelle, Robert Klonowski, Trin Bryden and Tori Joyce were very professional in their delivery and received rave reviews from those in attendance.   Below is a small sample of comments that appeared on Twitter during and after the presentation:

Congratulations and thanks should go to Mr. Fletcher, our Geography teacher, who has overseen the growth of a now provincially recognized program.  

Some students experience anxiety when having to do an oral presentation in front of their classmates.  The students from Mr. Jonathan Fletcher’s class got to experience what it was like to present to over 850 geography professionals from all over southern Ontario at the Toronto Congress Centre for the annual Esri Canada User Conference.  Esri is the world’s largest Geographic Information Systems (GIS) company.  GIS is a computer system that allows users to collect, store, display and analyse spatial information through maps to be used to make informed decisions.  You can think of Esri and ESRI Canada as the Microsoft of GIS software and ArcGIS as the Microsoft Office of GIS software.  People in the audience included GIS professionals from both the private and public sectors, all levels of government, natural resource extraction companies, and higher education institutions just to name a few. 

The presentation was focused on how students at Port Colborne High School learn geography and are engaged in their learning through the use of the ArcGIS platform technology.  The students, either in grade 10 or 11, are all currently taking the physical geography class with Mr. Jonathan Fletcher where the students are assigned a laptop computer for the semester.  

Last year Mr. Fletcher was asked by the education manager at Esri Canada, Jean Tong, to see if I had students who would be interested in presenting at the Toronto Esri User Conference during the Education spotlight.  When Mr. Fletcher asked his students if any of them would be interested in standing up and presenting, six students stepped up to the challenge.  Mr. Jonathan worked with his student for a couple of hours,1-2 times a week for 3 weeks leading up to the conference, creating the slide show and script collaboratively.  

Several parents made the trip to Toronto and were surprised to that our students were the only students there, everyone else was a professional.  Former PCHS geography student Eliza Lochhead, (grad’08) was in the audience as a GIS professional who works for the Region of Niagara.  “I was impressed by PCHS student GIS presentation at the ESRI conference. Spatial reasoning is a great way to bring logic to a problem through visualization of patterns or seeing the big picture before executing a decision. The students demonstrated they understood and appreciated the value of the technology.”

Student Cameron Lacelle said “I found it quite easy and not as difficult as I expected it to be. It was such a wonderful experience for my peers and I.  After speaking we received so many compliments from professionals. I am extremely lucky to have an opportunity like I did and I hope to possibly pursue a career in this field”. Tori Joyce piloted the computer and even ran a live ArcGIS On-line demonstration.  Many Esri staff and GIS professional’s, commented on how professional their presentation was. 

Way to put Port Colborne on the map PCHS!