By Emily Stifler Explorebigsky.com Managing Editor

On March 15, a few days after the WMPAC ribbon cutting ceremony, Gov. Steve Bullock stopped by to tour the facility and meet with students, teachers and school staff.

The Governor visited Mrs. Rust’s second grade classroom, where, in honor of Saint Patrick’s Day, he advised them on the perfect leprechaun trap. He also visited with Mr. Harder’s fourth grade class, where he learned about their upcoming trip to Yellowstone.

Bullock finished with a tour of the WMPAC and addressed the assembled faculty with an update on the 2013 legislative session. There, he fielded questions about education and tourism.

“It’s so great to see the community come together and support this and make it a reality,” Bullock said of the arts center.

Friends of Big Sky Education President Loren Bough was instrumental in bringing the Governor to the school.

“Gov. Bullock has shown real leadership on Montana education issues,” Bough said. “We believe the Big Sky School District, as the fastest-growing district in the state, will lead innovation in the small schools space.”

Bough pointed out students’ use of onsite and distance learning to pursue courses in six different languages, operation of tech labs for both lower and upper grades, as well as capstone projects and community service requirements for high school students.

“These features tie the community and businesses closer to the students,” he said.

From Bullock’s perspective, it’s important to know “what the state-wide leaders in education are doing,” said Montana Department of Commerce Director Meg O’Leary, formerly of Big Sky Resort. “He hadn’t seen the new high school, so [he] knew that would be productive.”

Education initiatives are a top priority for Bullock, who has three young children.

Bullock earlier that day toured LygoCyte Pharmaceuticals in Bozeman, learning more about the Japanese-owned biotech company that’s working on a possible vaccine for Norovirus.

Bullock, who is a skier, held his all-cabinet retreat in Big Sky earlier this year.