QUICKSBURG — Gov. Ralph Northam is celebrating Computer Science Education Week in Virginia’s schools, which included a visit to North Fork Middle School on Tuesday.

Computer Science Education Week is a national initiative dedicated to increasing awareness of the role of computing and the need to strengthen computer science education at all levels. The CodeVA initiative offers a middle school training program called Project GUTS (Growing Up Thinking Scientifically) for science teachers to incorporate computer science into lessons.

Before beginning the visit at North Fork, Northam said that computer science and coding are used in or at the core of all sectors of today’s industries.

As such, it is imperative that today’s schools be able to prepare students for that workforce.

“We have to pay teachers to entice the best into education. Schools across the state are falling apart.” Northam said.

“We need to make education our top priority and we have to fund it.”

Northam, before visiting a classroom, talked to the entire school, asking the North Fork students what they wanted to do. One wanted to be an astronaut, some wanted to be lawyers, some wanted to play in the National Football League and when Northam asked who wanted to be governor, two girls said they wanted to be elected governor.

“I would encourage you all to work hard in school, listen to your teachers and listen to your parents,” Northam said.

The governor would soon walk into the classroom of North Fork Middle School 7th grade life science teacher Delynda Hendricks

Hendricks was one of a handful of teachers who in August underwent training in Project GUTS.

Northam, who is a physician, visited her classroom where students were running computer models of the spread of a virus.

The first table he stopped at was where Evan Simmons, 12, of New Market, and Lilianna Bradley, 12, of Mount Jackson, were working at their computer.

The kids explained to him the model that was on the screen.

“I get it so this is like if your body gets an infection,” Northam said.

He asked the kids if they liked science and computer coding.

Bradley responded she wanted to go into cosmetology. Simmons said he wanted to be a game warden.

“Keep working hard,” Northam said after talking to the kids.

“It was an honor talking to him,” Simmons said afterward.

Northam moved on and talked to Lillian Truslow, 13, and Oceonna Hines, 12, both of Mount Jackson, about their computer work.

He asked Truslow about her Chromebook.

She explained it was issued by the school. He asked her if she had internet at home.

Truslow said she, as well as some other students, did not but that she was lucky and lived by the library and walked there to use their internet for school assignments.

Contact Melissa Topey at mtopey@nvdaily.com